Editorial: Beleaguered tourism industry

Editorial Cartoon by John Gilbert Manantan

MORE than five months into the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, countries like the Philippines continue to keep their heads above water.

Strict lockdowns to try and contain the highly infectious Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease, have wreaked havoc on many economies.

In Cebu, workers of non-essential establishments were left without incomes when their employers were forced to shut down to comply with community quarantine protocol.

The tourism industry has been particularly badly hit.

Since it is not considered essential, stakeholders were forced to suspend operations. Even if establishments had been allowed to operate, there wouldn’t have been any guests since all forms of travel were restricted save for a few exceptions.

According to the Department of Tourism 7, Central Visayas’ tourism industry “suffered an estimated P87 billion in foregone revenues from the month of January to June 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Data from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) showed that international tourist arrivals plunged 93 percent in June this year compared to the same month the year before.

The figures paint a bleak picture of the state of the tourism sector in Cebu and the rest of the world. And the worst is yet to come.

The UNWTO, in a press release, said “reduced travel demand and consumer confidence will continue to impact results for the rest of the year.”

This might explain why visitors didn’t flock to tourism destinations when Cebu Province reopened limited tourism activities in August. The effects remain to be seen in the cities of Cebu and Lapu-Lapu, which also announced that they would reopen tourism destinations when they were placed on modified general community quarantine.

As of September, 53 percent of tourism destinations worldwide had eased restrictions.

However, the UNWTO said the return to 2019 levels would take between two and four years, based on assumptions “of a gradual and linear lifting of travel restrictions, the availability of a vaccine or treatment and a return of traveler confidence.”

Last year, close to eight million local and foreign tourists visited mainland Cebu and its surrounding islands.


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