MANILA - The Department of Tourism on Tuesday said it is looking to create “travel bubbles” where people within areas with low risk of COVID-19 transmission can move around and visit destinations.
The DOT said it hopes that promoting “point to point traffic between destinations that have very low or practically no incidence of COVID-19” will help speed up the recovery of the Philippine tourism industry.
Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon said that from January to July, the Philippines booked 1.3 million foreign tourist arrivals. This was 73 percent lower compared to the same period last year.
Tourism revenues also went down 72 percent during the period.
Bengzon said that their survey of 1,000 tourism stakeholders revealed that 82 percent of the respondents were affected by the lockdowns, with workers losing their jobs, having their earnings reduced, or businesses closing down or reducing their operations.
“Clearly the tourism industry has been severely affected by the pandemic and of course, this was the result of the travel restrictions imposed in the middle of March,” Bengzon said in an interview with ANC.
Bengzon, however. said that the DOT is banking on local tourists to “accelerate the recovery of the industry.”
In 2019, local tourism contributed 10.8 percent to the GDP as Filipinos spent P3.4 trillion for trips within the country, Bengzon said.
“We’re very confident that as we open up local destinations, it will be the local tourists who will be creating or stimulating the demand,” Bengzon said.
The key to this, however, will be ensuring the health and safety of tourists in accommodations, tour transportation, and in restaurants and shops, he said.