Tourism sector loses P10 B due to COVID
The tourism industry of the Cordillera has lost more than P10 billion worth of economic opportunities due to the pandemic in 2020.
Based on preliminary estimates of the regional tourism satellite accounts collated and organized by the Philippine Statistical Authority-Cordillera, the region’s inbound tourists, composing of foreigners and overseas Filipinos, and domestic tourists spent approximately a total of P10.5 billion in 2019, or a year before the Covid-19 pandemic hit worldwide.
PSA-Cordillera Chief Statistical Specialist Aldrin Bahit, Jr. reported domestic tourists contributed the biggest chunk, spending P8.7B while inbound tourists spent P1.8B.
He said total expenditures were computed based on a tourist’s average expenditure estimated at P7,392 a day for an inbound tourist, P3,827 for domestic tourist, and P2,800 for same-day tourist, spent mostly on transportation; travel agency and reservation services; entertainment and recreation services; and shopping.
The preliminary estimates of the PSA-CAR, which are based on data submitted by provincial tourism offices, are actually higher than the projections of losses by the Department of Tourism-Cordillera.
DOT-Cordillera OIC Director Jovita Ganongan reported the region had over two million tourist arrivals in 2019, with Baguio City recording the highest number at 1,536,458 tourist arrivals followed by Mountain Province, Ifugao, Benguet, and Kalinga.
Ganongan said this is equivalent to a conservative estimate of P7,557,750,000 total economic opportunities – at a tourist’s average expenditure of P2,500 per day – lost for 2020, a majority part of which was shut down for tourism due to Covid-19.
Baguio started reopening to tourists on Oct. 1, 2020 through the Ridge and Reef program, with the city government launching the Visita online registration of tourists from Region 1 provinces.
Ganongan said based on initial reports from the City Tourism Office, the online platform recorded only 66,811 registrants from October 2020 to March this year, and 58 percent of them actually arrived and only 47 percent checked in at the hotels.
“We saw a decline of 82.5 percent, if we compare the tourist arrivals of 2019 and that of 2020, which only partly resumed tourism in October,” Ganongan said.
She said the regional stakeholders are currently trying to rebuild and recover the losses through partnership and coordination with the private sector to see what’s best to do for the industry.
“We realize our losses, but we also have to think about restarting responsibly because there is still the pandemic. Slowly, surely, safely, and responsibly is how we wanted tourism to be from now on. We are not just thinking about this time; we are also thinking of the future of tourism,” Ganongan said.
Among others, she said the DOT came up with an inventory of tourism workers who were affected and had mitigation efforts like cash and loan assistance to tourism-related micro, small, and medium enterprises.
Bahit said the PSA-CAR, on the other hand, pioneered the regional tourism satellite accounts as a development project to push for the improvement of tourism statistics and determine its contribution to the economy and help in development planning. – Hanna C. Lacsamana