International visitor arrivals in the Philippines went down by 73 percent in the first seven months to 1.3 million from 4.64 million in the same period last year, according to the Department of Tourism.
Data from the Department Tourism showed that revenues from tourism activities also fell by 72 percent in the seven-month period to P81 billion from P289.286 billion a year ago because of the quarantine restrictions.
Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon said that despite the drop in foreign arrivals, domestic tourism would likely lead the recovery of the sector.
Bengzon said domestic tourism continued to be a major contributor to the economy, accounting for 10.8 percent of the 12.7 percent total contribution of the sector. He said there were 109 million domestic trips in 2019.
“I’m confident that as we open, the local tourism can create more offers to stimulate demand. We are hoping we can get assistance from the bills being pushed in Congress to provide more impetus once we moved on from MGCQ,” Bengzon said.
A DOT survey on Philippine travel sentiments showed that 77 percent of the respondents were willing to travel even without a vaccine.
The survey showed that about 82 percent of a thousand respondents claimed that their jobs were affected by the pandemic and the quarantine restrictions. Many of them lost their jobs because of closed businesses, while others were forced to go on leave without pay, according to the survey.
“We are looking at smaller and high value tourists, bespoke or customized arrangements apart from developing travel bubbles in certain points with low to very low virus cases to stimulate inbound tourism,” Benzon said.
“But we make sure necessary protocols are in place in the tourism value chain like sanitized accommodation, transportation and operational restaurants for their food needs,” he said.
Bengzon said the next few months would be difficult for the tourism sector, but “if we see movement around the country, better inflow activities will give opportunities for investments”.
“All in all, we are optimistic,” he said.