Data from the Department of Tourism showed foreign arrivals last year plummeting to their lowest level since at least 1999, dropping to just 1.48 million, a downturn of 82.05 percent year-on-year.
The tourism industry suffered a huge setback from the pandemic-induced lockdowns, not a surprise as the Philippines was shut off to the rest of the world from March to September as part of the government’s strategy that involved a series of lockdowns aimed at controlling the spread of Covid-19.
The effects of the pandemic reversed tourism’s recent uptrend as a booming dollar source for the country. Tourism receipts last year amounted to a paltry P82.24 billion from a record high of P482.15 billion in 2019.
Such a downtrend is expected from a country that allowed international flights to come in only in October and continues to pose restrictions on leisure travel.
The struggling sector is focusing on local tourism now that Filipinos are permitted to travel to some destinations as long as health protocols are followed. The world-renowned Boracay beach in Aklan and Baguio City have reopened for business, subject to tight health monitoring.
The tourism sector is among the most affected but it is but one of the many sectors and industries that have no choice but to adapt in order to survive this pandemic and in time, perhaps even thrive. The quality of government will determine the path to recovery but in the end, as with most issues the Filipinos have been facing, it will be the private sector that will do the heavy lifting.
Almost one year into the pandemic, the path to recovery remains unclear. We can already see clearly how badly our industries and livelihoods have been affected but most of us still do not know how our government intends to lead us out of this prolonged pandemic-caused rut.
Filipinos need to have people, who know what they are doing, in charge of our future.
Who will step up to the challenge?*