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Sunday, March 3, 2024

Tourism and health protocols

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Prophetic it was when, two years ago, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat stressed her “high hopes” the industry would recover and the country, with its tourism jewels, would come out better from the challenges it was facing because of the coronavirus pandemic.

With official restrictions raised because of the pandemic threat, the industry has reawakened and begun, slowly but firmly, to rise from its nearly phlegmatic feet.

The London-based World Tourism and Trade Council has come out loud in its appraisal the Philippine tourism industry, a major earner for the country’s cash register, has recovered in 2021 with a 10.4 percent share to GDP.

While it was still lower than the 22.5 percent in 2019, it was higher than the 4.85 percent in 2020.

The WTTC quoted the Economic Impact Report which was based on constant 2021 prices and exchange rates from the Oxford Economics and the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

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WTTC President and CEO Julia Simpson stressed the growth was because of domestic travel and relaxed restrictions, adding the tourism economy has passed through the critical point and is getting better.

Simpson said the industry contributed $41 billion to the Philippine economy in 2021, higher than $37 billion in 2020, which was an 81 percent drop from $93 billion in 2019.

A 20.5 percent rise in employment was likewise seen last year, as revealed by the PSA and the WTTC—5.72 million in 2019, 4.68 million in 2020 and 7.8 million in 2021. The 7.8 million was equivalent to a 20.5 percent growth.

Puyat, determined to make the industry reach its vision to have travel easier and faultless, said the DOT will get there before long, projecting, with the relaxed restrictions after the high alert level systems have been downgraded by the government, recovery of the industry.

Simpson said the $41 billion share of the tourism industry to the economy even helped the Philippines to be the world’s fourth fastest-growing economy in 2021.

But while we are optimistic with the figures from the WTTC and the corresponding reactions from the Department of Tourism to address the challenges, we need to remind everyone to continue practicing the basic health protocols which would protect everyone with the surge of people in travel lines, establishments and tourism destinations.

There is no excuse for disregarding the protocols which helped us greatly during the 25-month stretch when the deadly coronavirus 2019 muscled its way in to the unsuspecting land of 110 million, killing more than 60,000 and infecting over 3.6 million.

Today, with the bullish report from the WTTC, we hear the echoes of Secretary Puyat’s “We will come out better from the present challenges that we face.”

Cause for cautious celebration.

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