The tourism industry's contribution to the Philippine economy last year dropped significantly with a 61.2 percent decrease.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the Tourism Direct Gross Value Added (TDGVA) dropped to P973.31 billion in 2020 compared with the P2.51 trillion in 2019.
It is only 5.4 percent of the industry's contribution to the country's gross domestic product (GDP), a steep decline from the 12.8 percent in 2019.
Admittedly, a setback in an industry flourishing before the Covid-19 pandemic, the dismal figures reflect the enormous challenge that the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the entire tourism sector face today.
The tourism industry is highly dependent on people's mobility and face-to-face interaction. The severe damage of the global pandemic crisis is both unprecedented and unavoidable.
However, more than the losses in tourism arrivals and revenue, these numbers translate to millions of tourism workers severely affected by the pandemic.
Due to the affected tourism workers and declining revenues, the DOT is compelled to explore all means possible, within the imposed government restrictions, to facilitate the gradual recovery of the tourism industry.
As embodied in the Tourism Response and Recovery Plan, the DOT has identified ways to overcome this temporary situation. Amid the pandemic, the DOT will pursue three strategies. These are:
- Ensure protection of jobs and safety of tourism workers, visitors, and communities;
- Support the recovery of tourism enterprises; and
- Rebuild confidence and grow demand in the domestic and foreign market.
The pivot towards domestic tourism led to the gradual reopening of various local sites, the lobbying for the protection of tourism workers through their immunization, and marketing of the destinations, which highlights the safe travel campaign.
All of it is among the Department's many efforts to facilitate a slow but sure recovery of the tourism industry.
For the next two years, the Philippines will be positioned as a "safe, fun, and competitive destination" rooted in solid partnerships with communities and visitors.
By developing and marketing a portfolio of products that harness the natural and cultural endowments, to benefit the present and future tourism generation, the Department's goal will be achieved.
The DOT is optimistic that this transient situation will soon be over. With the collective effort of the private and public sectors, the Philippine tourism industry will emerge bigger, better, and more resilient in the New Normal.