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Why is it important to protect Philippine tourism, according to ADB reports?

Why is it important to protect Philippine tourism, according to ADB reports?

Asian Development Bank (ADB) released a report this month of May. It revolves around why Southeast Asian countries need to prioritize core sectors ranging from tourism to digital trade.

Supporting Post-COVID-19 Economic Recovery in Southeast Asia

This report also comes as the first in a four-part series, looking at the pandemic’s impact on Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar, and the Philippines. It also shows why policymakers need a sector-based approach. Aside from that, this report also highlights strong medium-term opportunities, underscoring how regional cooperation can help countries recover from the pandemic. This recovery, then, could lead to building more resilient economies and societies. 

Why is it important to protect Philippine tourism, according to ADB reports?

With the COVID-19 pandemic looming in the country, it does not come as a secret that the tourism industry remains one of the most affected. Of course, this comes when the government has issued lockdowns effectively shutting the doors to tourist destinations in the Philippines. The thriving industry faced its worst nightmare as the pandemic closed down airports, postponed events, and canceled tours. 

The Philippines has relied heavily on tourism to boost the local economy and employ thousands of workers.

Prior to the pandemic, the sector contributed US$92.6-billion to the economy. However, it plummeted to only US$17.8-billion in 2020 alone. As 2022 thrives and the low number of new COVID-19 cases has come, a sense of normalcy has blanketed the entirety of the country. 

Of course, this is worth noting that even after the campaign season and the elections, health experts did not see a spike in COVID-19 numbers. With this encouraging news, it seems as if the Philippines has started to open its doors to businesses that involved tourism. 

According to the ADB report, the government and stakeholders should work hand-in-hand in strengthening the tourism industry. That way, it remains ready, responsive, and resilient enough to withstand and survive any future blows. 

“Prior to the pandemic, the tourism sector was beset with four structural challenges – first, there was over reliance on foreign tourists with focus on a few destinations; second, a lack of infrastructure outside major destinations; third, high informal employment; and last, the (tourism sector in Southeast Asia) only attracted low-cost travelers.”

However, those structural challenges worsened when COVID-19 struck. This, then, created new problems for the industry. The ADB reports also mentioned that tourists have become more aware of the importance of health precautions. The report also went on to point out that the pandemic could still lead to a fundamental decline in long-haul international tourism. This, of course, increased especially with the adoption of digital tools. This, on the other hand, included virtual meetings, conferences, and events tourism. 

ADB suggests four-policy response areas for the tourism industry. 

Focus on ways to restore demand.

This should strengthen domestic tourism. One action should also include developing marketing campaigns to convince travelers that it remains safe to travel in the country. 

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Build new channels of demand.

This should diversify tourist destinations and develop lesser-known points of interest. Aside from that, this will also tap into high growth segments like ecotourism, health and premium wellness experiences, and halal tourism. 

Build capacities to support future digital demand.

This touches on the need for authorities to invest in training workers in both digital and nondigital skills. That way, it tackles issues of low pay and informality. 

Increase industry resilience.

The tourism industry must work closely with central and local governments to improve communication channels. That way, this also creates a permanent crisis management task force, ensuring the sector withstand any more blows. 

With that said, let’s make it more fun in the Philippines and make it a safer place to travel for all. 

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