(Eagle News) — In this interview on ASEAN in Focus weekend edition on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020, Joyce Alumno, president of Health Core, talks about the implications on the tourism industry in the Philippines of the current novel coronavirus problem that has affected business not only in Asia, but all over the world.
Alumno, a medical tourism advocate, noted that the COVID-2019 scare, would have an impact on the country’s economy, considering that about 12.7 percent of the country’s GDP in 2018 comes from tourism, which, she said, was even bigger than the contribution of agriculture.
In fact, in terms of tourist arrivals in 2019, the Chinese nationals topped the list with 1.6 million arriving in the country, she noted.
“Given that they (Chinese nationals) are the country’s number one tourism resource, or tourist arrivals in the Philippines, obviously, this will create a rippling effect also in the economy. So it’s not just tourism, but also in terms of the economic impact, because they are also one of the strongest trade partners of the Philippines,” Alumno said.
She said that the opening of new markets, other than the Chinese market, is important, and can be part of the measures that can be implemented to create a “buffer” to the problem.
“Of course, we’d like to get more tourists from the ASEAN region,” Alumno said.
She said that regional promotion of tourism in the ASEAN, as well as the promotion and strengthening of domestic tourism, are just some of the possibilities at this point.
“We still really don’t know how long this will affect us,” she said.
She noted that there is already an observable downturn, with 63 percent decline in Metro Manila hotels. An estimated P20 billion loss in the tourism industry has already been projected because of the novel coronavirus scare.
“Tourism has a very large multiplier effect. It’s exponential. When you talk of tourism, you’re not just talking of the hotels, you’re not just talking of the restaurants. There’s a rippling effect — the suppliers, agriculture, entertainment, transportation,” Alumno explained.
The tourism industry alone created 5.4 million jobs for Filipinos — direct and indirect — in 2018, she noted.
ASEAN in Focus weekend airs every Saturday, between 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. at NET 25, Eagle Broadcasting Corporation’s television portal.