Domestic tourism to offset slump in foreign visitors in PH
Enjoining domestic tourism is seen to offset the slump in foreign tourist arrivals in countries like the Philippines amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said.
Across the Asia-Pacific region, “the abrupt fall in tourist arrivals and resulting demand plunge in the tourism sector due to COVID-19 has caused millions of job losses and economic hardships and wiped out many firms, especially the micro, small and medium-sized enterprises that had catered to tourists or in related industries,” ADB economists Matthias Helble and Anna Fink said in a report titled “Reviving Tourism amid the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
In the case of the Philippines, which the ADB categorized as an economy with a “major” tourism industry, spending by inbound tourists accounted for 2.9 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2018.
As the COVID-19 disease spread worldwide, travel restrictions were imposed across borders and it did not help that “many or most tourists were also afraid to travel,” the ADB said, citing International Air Transport Association (Iata) surveys in April and June.
“As international travel restrictions continue in many countries and demand for international travel remains low, a quick rebound is not in sight. Iata expects that global passenger traffic will not return to pre-COVID-19 levels until 2024,” the ADB added.
Despite these challenges, the ADB said that in many cases, domestic tourism would lead the recovery of the sector.
“We already notice in countries that have loosened restrictions on movement of people, that domestic tourism is gaining traction,” the ADB said.
The ADB noted that in 2018, the Philippines attracted seven million foreign tourists, while a bigger eight million Filipinos traveled overseas.
“If all outbound tourists stayed in the Philippines, then the country would have an excess demand of one million. Across Asia and the Pacific, in more than half of cases, domestic tourism technically has the potential to fully replace foreign visitors,” the ADB said.
ADB projections showed that promoting domestic tourism in the Philippines would result in a nearly 20-percent surplus of local tourists replacing foreigners, on top of an about 30-percent surplus in tourism expenditures.
“Since domestic tourism is relatively easy to promote, it has become a short-term objective for many countries in the region. The situation is unprecedented and the coming months will show how successful governments will be in tapping domestic tourism to close the gap left by international travelers,” the ADB said. INQ
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