Cheaper airfare, hotel rates to help blunt virus impact on Philippines: tour operator

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 21 2020 10:06 AM | Updated as of Feb 21 2020 10:19 PM

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MANILA -- Lower airfare and hotel rates can help ease the blow of travel restrictions to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus strain from China, the head of one of the Philippines' largest travel agencies said Friday.

The local industry is losing some 100,000 airline seats per week and some agencies reported a 50 to 60-percent cut in sales due to COVID-19, said Rajah Travel Corp President Aileen Clemente.

The government's plan to encourage domestic tourism will keep business going but is unlikely to compensate for lost revenue from foreign tourists, Clemente told The Briefing on ANC's Market Edge.

"It's good in the short run, microeconomics will work. We're looking for tourism receipts coming from abroad," she said.

"Domestic tourism is moving money from one place to another, enough to encourage businesses to remain, but not to encourage new receipts from abroad to come in," she said.

The Philippines has 3 confirmed cases so far of COVID-19, all tourists from Wuhan, China, where the pathogen was first reported. Beijing reported up to 2,233 deaths, with the number of new confirmed cases slowing.

Asked if the ban on inbound travel from China should be lifted, Clemente said: "Yes, with in mind that there should be precautionary measures."

Clemente cautioned against putting a stigma on a specific nationality while making sure that precautions against the spread are in place.