Duterte economic team sees ‘short-term’ nCoV impact on PH tourism
The Duterte administration’s economic team sees a “short-term” impact on the Philippine tourism industry of the spread of the novel coronavirus (nCoV) and expects economic growth to be stronger in 2020.
After the Economic Development Cluster (EDC) meeting, wherein economic managers mapped their strategies to achieve the higher gross domestic product (GDP) growth goal of 6.5-7.5 percent in 2020, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said besides infrastructure spending, planners expected the country’s more aggressive tourism push to “rev up the economy this year.”
But Dominguez said among the risks posing a threat to sustained Philippine growth included the spread of communicable diseases, such as nCoV.
Asked what could be the potential impact on tourism of nCoV, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said there would likely be a “short-term effect” even as there were already “a lot of measures being done to minimize” infection among Filipinos.
Pernia, who heads the state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), said the spread of the virus “shouldn’t take long.”
China was the Philippines’ second-biggest source of tourists, but the Chinese government already banned outbound travel to prevent the spread of the disease.
For Dominguez, the Chinese government “acted very swiftly—they have been very proactive in the control of this disease.”
But Dominguez acknowledged that the spread of the virus had been deterring many travel plans—he, for instance, was supposed to go to Wuhan to lead a delegation to draw investors but had to cancel the roadshow. “I’m not allowed to go there,” Dominguez said. Wuhan is the city in Hubei province in China where nCoV was first detected and is now considered the disease’s epicenter.
The planned economic briefing in China had been postponed until the risks subsided, Dominguez said.
If there could be something beneficial to the economy from the nCoV episode, Dominguez said “maybe domestic airlines will promote internal travel” more than outbound trips.
Pernia said another positive effect would be that the country would be saving on foreign exchange if Filipinos don’t travel overseas.
The other sectors that may be affected included importers of food products from China. “Maybe food imports will go down,” Pernia said.
Edited by TSB
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