Tourism businesses asked for government support as the sector incurred total losses of P190 billion in the months of March to July.
Jojo Clemente, president of the Tourism Congress of the Philippines, said the figure was based on revenues the sector achieved in 2019.
“In fact, tour operators have lost P23 billion in ticket sales so far. So net loss is far more than what we anticipated,” Clemente said in a webinar hosted by the Philippine Tours Operators Association Inc. Tuesday.
Clemente said the industry had high hopes for 2020 to be a banner year under the pandemic crushed their growth forecasts.
He said tourism stakeholders would need P80 billion worth of assistance, higher than the P10 billion being considered by the government. “This P10 billion is just a drop in the bucket,” he said.
Philippine Travel Agencies Association Inc. president Richie Tuaño said the government should prioritize the survival of the industries in the tourism sector over infrastructure development.
“The stakeholders around the country sustainably urged the bicameral committees to reexamine the provisions of House Bill 6953 specifically section 7 item 1, appropriating P10 billion to finance the programs of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zones Authority assisting the recovery of the tourism industry that shall include the formation of the infrastructures,” he said.
“When we agree that the infrastructure development is vital to the tourism industry, we believe that the more urgent matter at this point in time is ensuring the survival of an industry on the verge of collapse due to the effect of the pandemic,” he said.
He said the tourism industry needed support in the form of zero to low-interest loans with longer payment periods to allow stakeholders to fully recover from the effects of COVID-19.
Infrastructure development could resume as soon as the conditions as the tourism industry normalized, the group said.
They said most tourism establishments have not been allowed to operate over the past five months. This forces many of them to close their businesses.
Data showed that international visitor arrivals plunged 73 percent in the first seven months to 1.3 million from 4.64 million in the same period in 2019 after the government closed the airports to foreign visitors starting mid-March.