PH gov’t urged to brace for tourism dip due to virus outbreak

MANILA, Philippines – House Deputy Speaker Johnny Pimentel urged the government to brace for a drop in tourism resulting to loss of thousands of jobs due to the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that broke out in China, a major market in the Philippine hospitality industry.

“We have to put together a plan to help these displaced workers transition to other jobs,” Pimentel said in a statement on Sunday, February 23.

Pimentel projected the Philippine stands to lose up to 1.2 million Chinese visitors in 2020, primarily because of the travel ban on mainland China. Even if the virus is suppressed and the travel ban lifted, he said “the damage has already been done” and that a rebound would take longer than the country would wish.

Pimentel urged the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to draw up an emergency skills retooling and jobs plan for thousands of workers facing layoffs.

The House leader also reminded the Social Security System to give out P20,000 in unemployment insurance to workers who would be involuntarilty separated.

In 2019, a total of 1,743,309 vacationers from China arrived in the Philippines, according to the DOT.

Aside from China, the Philippines welcomed the most visitors from South Korea (1,989,322 visitors), United States (1,064,440 visitors), Japan (682,788 visitors), and Taiwan (327,273). In these countries, the DOT expects a dip in visits of at least 10%.

China has been the Philippines’ fastest-growing source of foreign visitors since 2016, amid President Rodrigo Duterte’s warming ties with China. –

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.