AS the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (N-CoV) outbreak affects the tourism industry, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano called for a contingency plan to cushion the impact.
In a statement, Cayetano asked the House Committee on Tourism and House Committee on Economic Affairs to start working with the Department of Tourism (DOT) to assess the short- and medium-term effects of the N-CoV on the tourism and travel industry.
“We acknowledge the necessity of the decision of some airlines to cancel flights and the government’s imposition of temporary travel ban from Hubei, China and other provinces of China that are seriously affected by the dreaded 2019-nCov, but we still have to prepare a plan to lessen its impact.” Cayetano said.
He said while the government is intensifying measures to prevent the spread of the 2019 nCoV, the House of Representatives “wants to work with the tourism and services sector to ensure that tourism growth will not be derailed in the next few months.”
The Speaker also underscored the need for the country to be ready in case the outbreak is prolonged.
DOT records showed that 1.63 million of the total 7.4 million international tourist arrivals from January to November of 2019 were Chinese.
The Chinese are also considered the second biggest tourist spenders in the Philippines next to the South Koreans, with the DOT noting that Chinese tourists spent $979.4 million or around P51 billion in the country in the first half of 2019.
Cayetano said with a majority of Chinese travelers visiting the Asia-Pacific region every year, the 2019 nCoV outbreak “will definitely take a toll” on airlines, hotels, and restaurants, conferences, sporting events, leisure and gaming, and the retail business.
In Malaysia, the Tourism Arts and Culture Ministry has formed a Tourism Recovery Committee following the nCoV outbreak.
The committee is tasked to ensure the safety and comfort of all tourists by conducting health screening on all tourists using air, water, and land entry points to Malaysia.
The committee will also come up with plans to find new markets after the Chinese government banned overseas tours and the booking of flights and hotels abroad.