SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
In response to the call of House Speaker Alan Peter “Compañero” Cayetano to identify possible measures that can be adopted to mitigate the impact of the 2019 novel coronavirus (nCoV) on the tourism and travel industry, the House Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by Rep. Sharon Garin (Party-list, AAMBIS-OWA) and House Committee on Tourism chaired by Rep. Sol Aragones (3rd District, Laguna) will have a joint hearing on February 12, Wednesday, 9:00 AM, to get the views and perspectives of government officials and tourism stakeholders from the private sector on the issue.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, Board of Airline Representatives (BAR) Chairman Genaro Velasquez, Philippines AirAsia (PAA) Global Affairs Head Desiree Bandal and PAA Pilot Flight Safety Chief Capt. Christopher Natividad have confirmed their attendance to the said hearing.
Other resource persons invited by the Committee are Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, Health Secretary Francisco Duque lll, Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez, Socio-Economic Planning Secretary and National Economic and Development Authority Director-General Ernesto Pernia, Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente, and Philippine Retailers Association President Rosemarie Ong.
Speaker Cayetano earlier expressed the need to work with the tourism and services sector to ensure that tourism growth will not be derailed as a result of the travel restrictions and the NCoV scare.
Philippine Tour Operators Association President Cesar Cruz cited that about fifty (50) percent of reservations in Boracay, Cebu and Palawan have been canceled as a result of the imposition of travel ban to and from China, which is the second largest tourism market.
With this development the Philippine Tour Operators Association estimates that the tourism industry has lost at least ten billion pesos (P10 B) so far.
The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) said preliminary estimates indicate that the economy might lose from 0.06 percent of GDP, or about eleven billion pesos (P11 B), up to 0.7 percent, or about one hundred thirty three billion pesos ( P133 B), should the contagion persist inordinately.
The Speaker said measures should be taken to soften the impact of the 2019-nCoV problem such as strengthening domestic tourism and exploring other tourism markets. He hopes that through this hearing the Department of Tourism and other tourism stakeholders can work together to develop viable solutions to lessen impact to the livelihood of the informal workers dependent on the tourism industry.
Meanwhile, in the Ugnayan Forum last week, Garin said Chinese tourists account for 20 percent of international tourist arrivals in the country and a prolonged drop in their spending and travel to the Philippines would likely hurt the economy. She assured that her Committee and the Committee on Tourism will discuss contingency plans with the Department of Tourism.