Is Philippines Tourism Recovering After COVID-19?
Written by Dezza, 3 January 2023.
G’day everyone. Welcome to my first blog in quite a while, for obvious reasons. However, the good news is that things are slowly getting back to normal in the Philippines as far as tourism is concerned. It has certainly been one helluva couple of years. There have been a lot of changes, some for the better and some not so much so.
Most of you are probably aware that the Philippines’ government previously implemented various measures such as lockdowns and travel restrictions to control the spread of COVID-19. These measures greatly reduced the number of international tourists visiting the country from March 2020 until February 2022. Naturally, this has had a significant impact on the tourism industry and the best places to visit in the Philippines.
As a result, tons of businesses, including hotels, resorts, and tour operators, were forced to close or significantly scale back their operations. However, since then, international tourism has slowly been ramping up. The Philippines has now fully opened up its borders to tourists, and many popular destinations are fully welcoming visitors back.
As a matter of fact, as of May 30, 2022, fully vaccinated travellers are no longer required to present a negative COVID-19 test. Also, as of October 2022, facemasks are no longer compulsory. This is all great news for tourists and the Philippines’ economy, as the Philippines economy heavily relies on tourism as is one of the country’s major sources of revenue.
The Philippines’ government is also working on measures to promote the country as a safe travel destination and to attract more tourists. Despite this, there is no doubt it will take some time for the Philippines’ tourism industry to recover and reach pre-pandemic levels.
What Business Have Been Affected By The Pandemic?
As mentioned above, the Philippines was largely closed to international tourists for the best part of two years and you don’t need an economics or business degree to work out that most businesses simply cannot survive without any revenue for two months let alone two years.
I actually have a number of friends, both locals and foreigners, who basically lost everything as a result of the pandemic. Some of these people had businesses that have been around for 20+ years and within a few short months, everything they had worked for over that entire time was gone. All of it. It really was heartbreaking to see. And I’m not just talking about businesses directly related to tourism. Following are some of the main industries that were affected:
Hotels and resorts: Obviously this industry was the hardest hit by travel restrictions and a decrease in tourism. Many hotels and resorts have had to close or significantly scale back their operations. This has led to job losses and financial losses for these businesses.
Tour operators: With the decrease in tourism, tour operators have seen a decline in business as fewer people are taking tours. This has led to job losses and financial losses for tour operators.
Restaurants and cafes: With the decrease in tourism, many restaurants and cafes in tourist areas have had to close or significantly scale back their operations. This has led to job losses and financial losses for these businesses.
Transportation: Businesses such as taxi and car rental companies have been affected by the decrease in tourism as there are fewer people travelling.
Shopping centres and souvenir shops: With the decrease in tourism, many shopping centres and souvenir shops in tourist areas have had to close or significantly scale back their operations.
Entertainment and attractions: Businesses such as bars, museums and cinemas have been affected by the decrease in tourism as there are fewer people visiting these places.
Things Opening Back Up
I was recently down in El Nido, in Palawan, over the festive period and it was really encouraging to see so many tourists there from various countries around the world. it was my first time in Palawan since 2018 and there have been some noticeable changes, mostly for the better.
There are a lot of new restaurants and bars there and the place looks a little cleaner and more organised than when I was last there. I have a friend that has a dive centre in El Nido and he managed to survive the pandemic from a business perspective however, some other businesses went so lucky. He shared with me some truly shocking stories which I don’t feel comfortable sharing in this blog.
This was actually the first time I have been on a plane since December of 2019 and only the second time that I have been outside of Manila to any great extent. I have heard so many horror stories from people who have been travelling with regard to problems with vaccination documentation, flights being cancelled, problems with hotel accommodation and so many other issues related to travel. It was for this reason that I was not in a hurry to resume travelling.
However, I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by the whole experience including my transit through airports, arranging transportation and all the other usual elements of travelling that most of us take for granted. In a way, it was almost as if nothing had changed. So I am definitely feeling a lot more encouraged by my experience, especially seeing so many foreigners in El Nido from all different parts of the world.
The Philippines never ceases to amaze me. The resilience of the people and the country is truly remarkable when you look at everything this country has been through from a historical perspective. I have to admit, I really wasn’t sure how the Philippines would recover from the pandemic but as I mentioned earlier, based on my trip to El Nido, I feel very positive based on my experience and I, therefore, encourage everybody to consider including the Philippines as part of the international travel plans in 2023.
So now that things are slowly getting back to normal, and my confidence has been restored with regard to travelling, I hope to be doing more Deztrek adventures within the coming months, particularly with summer approaching.
Over the next few months, it is my intention to become more active with my blogs now that not just the Philippines, but the world is opening up to travel once more. So please stay tuned to my website so that you are able to catch up with the latest news with regard to destinations in the Philippines for you to come and visit and enjoy in this amazing country.
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