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Support local tourism amid novel coronavirus

Senator Win Gatchalian called on Filipinos to help support our local tourism industry as he expects the temporary travel ban on mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau to hurt the tourism sector. He said avoiding out of the country travels can also contain the spread of the virus which experts say looks increasingly like a pandemic.


OSLOB, CEBU, Philippines – Tourists leave Sumilon Island in central Visayas after visiting its world-famous sandbar, 1 June 2018. Senator Win Gatchalian advised the Department of Tourism to look for an alternative tourism market or conduct a marketing campaign to double the number of tourists from the country’s traditional markets. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

Data from the Department of Tourism (DOT) show that Chinese tourists are the country’s second largest tourism market next to South Koreans. DOT records also show that 1,626,309 out of the total 7.4 million international tourist arrivals from January to November of 2019 came from mainland China. Visitors from mainland China are also regarded as the second biggest tourist spenders in the country, as Chinese tourists reportedly spent US$979.4 million or around ₱51 billion in the country in the first half of 2019.

Gatchalian also called on the Department of Tourism (DOT) to embark on an aggressive marketing campaign to intensify the promotion of domestic destinations. This will help the micro and small entrepreneurs and even the menial workers in the regions to cope with possible economic vulnerabilities.

“It is during this time when we must show our ‘Bayanihan’ spirit to help our kababayans, whose livelihoods are affected by the travel ban. Instead of planning a trip abroad this year, let’s explore the Philippines more for a change,” he said.

“Maraming apektado sa travel ban, nandiyan ang mga bangkero, tour guides, mga ordinaryong vendor, lahat yan apektado kapag walang turista. Kaya imbes na magbakasyon tayo sa ibang bansa, dito na lang at matutulungan pa natin sila”, shared Gatchalian.

The tourism industry of Negros Oriental experienced a big wave of booking cancellations immediately after it was reported that the two persons who tested positive for 2019-nCoV visited the province.

The lawmaker, though, weighs in on the full economic impact. During Tuesday’s Senate hearing, Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez said it is too early to ascertain the economic effects of the virus scare. Although he did mention that in the immediate term, the temporary closure of factories in China which can cause possible global supply reduction might have a minimal impact on the country’s exports.

Meanwhile, data from the global ANZ Research published last February 3, 2020 show a 75% decline in the number of visitors and tourists from China in three months which could shave 0.11% points off the Philippine economic growth.