Philippines' tourist arrivals, receipts plunge by 83% in 2020

The Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT) on Tuesday, January 12, announced that foreign tourist arrivals and tourism receipts plunged by 83% in 2020, as the country closed its borders due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of foreign tourists in the Philippines was at 1.32 million, the same figure the DOT reported in May 2020. This is an 83.97% plunge from the 8.26 million in 2019.

The government had barred travel to the Philippines for leisure. Only foreigners with official business, spouses of Filipino citizens, and dual citizens, among others, were allowed to enter the country.

Tourism receipts, meanwhile, were estimated at P81.40 billion, an 83.12% drop from 2019's P482.16 billion.

With targets unlikely to be met in the near future, the DOT will revise its National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP).

The NTDP had set tourist arrival targets from 2016 to 2022, with 2020 set at 9.2 million foreign visitors and 10 million in 2021.

"The [NTDP] 2016-2022 will be aligned with the TRRP (Tourism Response and Recovery Plan) to strengthen institutional and policy reforms as well as help prepare destinations towards the new normal. Recalibration of targets and refocusing to domestic tourism in the short term will be carried out," said Tourism Secretary Bernadette Puyat on Tuesday.

Travel bubbles are still on the table too, but Puyat said the "proper" infrastructure must also be in place.

Puyat added that the entry of balikbayans or returning Filipinos served as a "dry run" for potential agreements with other countries.

"International travel bubbles demand the strict enforcement of health and safety protocols at the destination countries.… Whenever feasible, the Philippines is willing to tie up with neighboring countries first with the main consideration of proximity," she said. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.

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