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2021: Rekindled optimism for a “steady” tourism rebound

Tourists were still able to visit the nation from January to mid-March last year before the lockdown was imposed, so the annual tourism revenue in 2020 will undoubtedly be larger than this year’s receipts.

However, when comparing the data from April to September in both years, which encompass the pandemic period, the tourism industry in 2021 sees renewed promise for a steady comeback.

Tourism receipts totaled PHP3.1 billion from April to September 2021, up 91.6 percent from PHP1.6 billion in the same period last year, according to data from the Department of Tourism (DOT).

“As we near the end of 2021, the current tourist environment appears to be mainly positive. As the Alert Levels decreased, so did the limitations for local travel. Many of our sites now allow fully vaccinated local tourists without requiring a negative RT-PCR test “According to the Philippine News Agency, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.

More enterprises have reopened since the gradual restart of tourism activities last September, and the country has seen an increase in the number of domestic passengers in major tourist locations.

Tourism arrivals in Boracay alone increased by 1,151.61 percent to 173,104 from 13,830 tourists recorded in the same period in 2021.

The DOT also continued to promote the Philippines as a destination that prioritizes not only tourist safety but also the safety of host communities by vaccinating tourism employees around the country.

As of December 24, at least 88.38 percent of tourist employees, or 282,780 people, have been inoculated against coronavirus sickness, with the remaining 11.62 percent awaiting their vaccination schedule.

Meanwhile, Fe Abling-Yu, president of the Philippine Tour Operators Association, Inc. (PHILTOA), anticipates that the relaxed limitations will last until 2022.

“Close, open, close, open tayo ang nangyayari. Then, in August, nagsarado naman, so wala nanaman din, so ‘yong recovery parang urong-sulong (What happened was that we closed, then opened, then closed again.) We closed in August, so it appeared that recovery was shaky), “She cited the closures that occurred when the Delta variation hit the country.

“Since nasa Alert Level 2 na tayo, sana magtuloy-tuloy na sana. Nandoon kami sa hope na magtutuloy-tuloy na the challenge is mayroon na naman tayong variant pero sana ‘yong pagbo-booster at immunization makatulong We are hopeful that this will work, but the current difficulty is the new variation, so boosters and vaccinations should help), “she continued.

‘Optimism for 2022’

According to Romulo-Puyat, “revenge travel” will be prevalent in all markets of the Philippine tourist industry by 2022. Filipinos are also likely to travel “more consciously” as a result of the pandemic’s disconnect and economic difficulties.

According to a recent study commissioned by AirBnB, over 80% of Filipinos asked to want to travel in a way that benefits locals, and over 76 percent want to be more careful about familiarizing themselves with the host community and how they may contribute.

The Department of Transportation has pledged to shift its focus to long-term tourist development strategies, focusing on offering high-quality experiences to guests rather than mass tourism and short-term gains.

The DOT expects domestic tourists will continue to be the key tourism development driver next year, despite the lack of a firm timetable for when the country would open its borders to foreign leisure travelers.

Apart from that, the DOT stated that it will tap into the burgeoning workstation market, citing the fact that remote work is anticipated to be popular throughout and after the pandemic.

“Employees who worked from home during the pandemic needed time to rest and recover from cabin fever, which prompted the trend. We are convinced that, as remote work becomes more prevalent, this trend will continue even after the pandemic “According to Romulo-Puyat.

However, she stated that once the Philippines reopens, foreign visitors may be guaranteed that health and safety standards will be in place.

“We fully realize the necessity to preserve the health and well-being of the rest of the country,” she said, “particularly now that we have started to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Last December 1, the Philippines was planned to reopen to foreign tourists after a nearly 21-month shutdown, but the plan was put on hold due to the mounting threat of the significantly mutated Omicron coronavirus variety, of which four confirmed cases have already been identified in the country.

In March 2022, the Tourism Secretary hopes to host the World Tourism and Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit, a MICE event that is expected to help the Philippine travel sector recover.

“Since the middle of this year, the DOT has been rigorously preparing for the WTTC Global Summit, and we are continually reinforcing our preparations to effectively host the event in March of 2022,” she stated.

“The WTTC Global Summit is widely regarded as the most prominent event for travel and tourism professionals and stakeholders, and we are putting our guests’ and employees’ health and safety at the top of our priority list,” she added.

‘Devastation of Odette’

Meanwhile, following the devastation caused by Super Typhoon Odette, the Department of Transportation is working on a “repair and recovery” plan for numerous tourist areas, including Bohol, Camiguin, Cebu, Negros Oriental and Occidental, Palawan, Siargao, and Southern Leyte.

The plan, according to Romulo-Puyat, will focus on resolving the immediate issues of affected tourist employees, such as cash-for-work or alternative livelihood initiatives, as well as the restoration of various firms’ harmed facilities.

The organization is also enabling the transportation of humanitarian commodities and essential necessities to Cebu, Siargao, Tacloban, Palawan, and Negros Oriental through the Tourism Promotions Board.

Affected enterprises and DOT Regional Offices also received cash gifts from tourism partners. In addition, for financial support, the DOT works closely with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

In Siargao, Romulo-Puyat stated that the DOT, in collaboration with the Makati Med Foundation, will continue the vaccination campaign for tourism workers while also attending to the community’s acute medical needs.

“As soon as electricity and communication links have been restored, the Department aims to publish an inventory of the damage. For the time being, the Department is using all available resources to assist local government entities in meeting the immediate needs of individuals who have been impacted by the typhoon “she stated

“In these trying times, we stand behind our kababayans and tourist stakeholders from Visayas and Mindanao,” she added.

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