PH tourism sector loses P10 billion over travel restrictions due to coronavirus spread: tour operators

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 07 2020 04:12 PM | Updated as of Feb 07 2020 05:31 PM

People flock to the Travel Tour Expo at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay, City on February 7, 2020 even as several countries have imposed travel bans or strict screening for travelers because of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus outbreak affecting the several countries. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Philippine tourism industry has lost at least P10 billion pesos as government continues to impose a travel ban to and from China, the country's second largest tourism market and epicenter of the deadly 2019 novel coronavirus, an official from a tour operators' group said Friday.

About 50 percent of reservations in Boracay, Bohol, Cebu, and Palawan have been canceled, Philippine Tour Operators Association President Cesar Cruz told reporters.

"Both for inbound and outbound [travel], it would really have a very big effect," he said.

"It hit us during the peakest of the peak, which is the Chinese New Year," he said.

The tourism industry may continue to feel the effects of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Acute Respiratory Disease (2019-nCoV ARD) until August, he said.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) is eyeing to boost promotions in South Korea and the United States, the Philippines' top and 3rd largest tourist markets, respectively, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.

The DOT is also coordinating with hotels and airline companies to give discounts to attract more visitors, she said.

Stopping the spread of the virus is the government's primary concern, she said.

The 2019-nCoV has killed at least 600 people and infected 30,000 others, mostly in China since the origin of the pathogen was traced to the Chinese city of Wuhan in late December 2019.

The Philippines has recorded 3 cases, all Chinese travelers from Wuhan, among whom 1 has died.

- report from Michael Delizo, ABS-CBN News