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PH tourism’s recovery may lag – ANZ Research

By Anna Leah E. Gonzales/The Manila Times

Boracay Island. TMT FILE PHOTO

The Philippine tourism industry is expected to bounce back more slowly from the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, even as the sector in Asia begins to recover, according to ANZ Research.

This comes as the Department of Tourism is optimistic that the industry would recover well after the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) recently released an encouraging report on the sector’s performance last year.

In a report on Friday, ANZ Research said “tourism in the region is entering the recovery phase, but the pace of this recovery [would] depend on the evolution of the pandemic and the corresponding responses of governments” to it.

“The tourism sectors in India, Indonesia and the Philippines are likely to be the laggards,” it added.

Since most countries are now past the worst of their Covid-19 outbreak, movement restrictions would be eased and the appetite for travel would gradually return, the report said, noting that in the three aforementioned countries, the number of active coronavirus cases “continued to rise.”

As of Friday, the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country increased by 1,006 to 34,073. Of this number, 9,182 have recovered and 1,224 died.

“Economies that have a combination of falling active virus cases, as well as sizable domestic and outbound tourism markets, could also do relatively better, such as Malaysia,” ANZ Research said.

“If international travel resumes, long-haul trips are likely to be the slowest to recover.

Within Asia, Thailand has the largest exposure to foreign visitors outside the region relative to the size of its economy,” it added.

The report also said that while there was now a “glimmer of hope,” the sector would still face massive headwinds.

“In the absence of widespread vaccination, fears of new waves of infections will persist. As such, control measures in terms of travel and business operating capacity are likely to be lifted only gradually,” it added.

“The appetite for travel is also likely to be weaker relative to the pre-pandemic period, not only due to the confidence effect, but also because health protocols, such as mandatory health certificates and quarantines, may be required.”

The sector’s recovery will also be “long and arduous,” ANZ Research said.

‘High hopes’

Also on Friday, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat expressed confidence that the industry would recover from the three months the country spent under quarantine and restore the tourism-related jobs lost to Covid-19.

“I have high hopes that the significant share of employment the tourism industry provides, as consistently indicated by the PSA’s annual report, will help spur our sector’s recovery from the impact of this pandemic,” Puyat said.

In that report, the statistics agency said tourism’s share to total employment in the country hit 13.5 percent last year and that its share in the gross domestic product pie was 12.7 percent.

Tourism-related jobs also increased by 6.5 percent or around 350,000 to 5.71 million last year from 5.36 million in 2018.

Romulo-Puyat said the recent easing of quarantine measures in some parts of the country created a stir among industry players as the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseasesas allowed tourism establishments, particularly dine-in services in restaurants, to partially resume operations.

“Tourism stakeholders share the desire and determination of the nation’s labor force to get back to work as we embrace the ‘new normal,’” she added. WITH FAYE ALMAZAN


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