Written by Dezza, 17 February 2020.
Are you wondering what effect the n-CoV coronavirus has had on tourism in the Philippines? Although I don’t typically blog about things that aren’t specifically travel-related, with the coronavirus being such a hot topic at the moment, I thought that I would take a look at it in more detail with a view as to what impact it has had on tourism in the Philippines.
To start with, the threat of the coronavirus, and it is just that – a threat, has affected the US $8 trillion global tourism industry, cutting an estimated 10% of its value so far. And the Philippines hasn’t been spared.
So, how has the virus affected the tourism industry in the Philippines? What state is the Philippines tourism industry in right now as we are in the middle of the coronavirus outbreak? And what is the long-term outlook of the industry moving into the future?
For a better understanding of what the coronavirus outbreak means for Philippine’s tourism industry, we will delve into:
The tourism industry in the Philippines is undoubtedly an essential industry for the country’s economy.
According to the Philippines Statistics Authority, the tourism industry contributed 12.7% to the country’s economy in 2018. What’s more, it needs to be pointed out that the Philippines tourism industry relies on Chinese tourists.
In the first ten months of 2019, the country had over 7 million foreign tourists. Of that total number, Chinese tourists contributed 1.49 million visitors with 25 per cent of Philippine tourism being driven by the Chinese market.
As you can see, the sector benefits a lot from the high interest among Chinese tourists.
And with the closure of the border to non-Filipino visitors travelling from China, Macau, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, the tourism industry will take a significant hit.
Philippine Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez estimates the financial loss between February, March, and April to be up to P42.9 billion ($848.62 million).
For instance, 14,211 tourist cancellations arose from the cancellation of 11 port calls cruise ships.
Carriers into the Philippines, including Philippine Airlines, China Eastern Air, Xiamen Air, Cebu Pacific, OK Air, and Air Asia have cancelled flights and or suspended direct flights to and from mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau.
Some of the best places in the Philippines have been affected as a result of these travel bans and restrictions. For islands such as Boracay, that had over 865,000 foreign visitors last year, more than half were Chinese.
Business such as tattoo artists, vendors, beach masseuses, and water sports activities will experience a significant decline in their business.
While the travel ban has stopped any entry of tourists from the Chinese market, there has been a decline in tourist entries from other markets into the best Philippines destinations.
For instance, there have been 2,368 tour packages and 6,576 airline booking cancellations from the Korean market.
There have been 643 cancelled trips from the Japanese market. Reportedly, there have decreased bookings from the European, Australian, and U.S market.
Owing to the Philippines close proximity to China, there is a serious concern of the coronavirus spreading.
The Philippines is also home to a large population of Chinese workers working in the Philippine Offshore Gambling Operation.
However, the temporary ban on non-Philippine travellers from China, Macau, Hong Kong, and Taiwan has reduced the risk of the virus spreading in the Philippines.
The Philippines government has been pretty proactive in preventing the spread of the coronavirus.
For instance, the government is training the Philippines National Police and has initiated a travel ban.
Since February 2020, all persons from China except Filipino and permanent resident visa holders are temporarily barred from entering the country.
Moreover, even citizens and permanent resident visa holders travelling from China are required to undertake a 24-day quarantine before heading out to the general population.
Measures at the airport include travel restrictions from to and from China, Macau, and Hong Kong. Passengers from these three countries are also banned from making entry into their airports.
Aside from taking steps to negate the coronavirus from gaining entry into the country, the Philippines government has also been working to with stakeholders such as airlines to roll out discounted accommodation rates, value-added tour packages, and marked-down prices for the majority, if not all of the domestic flights.
On the fiscal measurement front, the government reduced the rate on reverse repurchase interest rate by 25 basis points to 3.75%. The government also reduced the overnight deposit and lending facilities to 3.25% and 4.25%.
These are all measures that are designed to cushion and protect the business environment from the potential effects the virus outbreak might have on the economy. As such, if you visit the Philippines, you can expect businesses to be running as they usually would.
Well, this is a question that only you can answer. The truth of the matter is, while there was a risk of the virus spreading in the Philippines, the temporary ban has reduced the risk significantly.
The Philippines government is being proactive by taking measures to keep everyone in the country safe and healthy.
You can always take advantage of the lower demand and low prices to explore the Philippines to your heart’s content.
All things considered, it is clear to see that the Coronavirus outbreak in China has had tremendous effects on the global tourism industry. In the same light, the virus outbreak has affected the tourism industry in the Philippines.
A lot of this furore is more about perceived risk than actual risk. It’s important for everyone to take a step back and realise that the Coronavirus outbreak is NOT in the Philippines. Taking all the necessary precautions such as washing of hands and not rubbing your eyes are simple things you can do.
That said, it’s not all doom and gloom. The Philippines government is proactive in dealing with the situation. As mentioned above, the country has taken steps to prevent the virus from crossing into the country, among other active measures.
And with a relative fall in demand, you should expect a corresponding fall in travel and accommodation prices.
Ultimately, this might be the perfect time to explore the breadth and depths of the country, enjoying some of the hidden treasures in the Philippines.
And with summer approaching, the weather should be great for the next couple of months.
So while the coronavirus is a serious issue to have in mind, do not be put off enjoying what the Philippines has to offer.
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