Photo: Cagsawa ruins in Albay, a popular tourist spot
While the country celebrated a record 8.2 million tourists last year, the propects for 2020 are really bleak when you factor in the coronavirus pandemic wreaking havoc on global tourism, and hurting ours.
A review of some facts about our tourism sector will show us why it is a vital part of our economy, and must be helped if our economy is to survive the pandemic:
Tourism represents 12.7% of the Philippine economy, a value of a about between 35 and 40 billion dollars worth of our economic growth, contributing slightly more than Business Process Outsourcing sector and the equivalent of OFW income.
It directly hires 5.4 million Filipinos or13% of the total labor force. These are local jobs. Again, more than the Business Process Outsourcing Sector and more than all the total overseas Filipino workers and double the total number of rice farmers.
Majority of which are lesser skilled workers, such as housekeepers, waiters, gardeners. They will not be able to find other jobs if laid off.
Majority of tourism enterprises are small and medium enterprises. Large hotels and resorts are the minority. If they are forced to close, reopening them will not be easy. The owners may not even seek to reopen their businesses.
Majority of these enterprises are outside Metro Manila. They represent one of the first cash based enterprises in many small towns.
The truth is that tourism is the sector hardest hit by COVID-19. About three fourths of enterprises are not likely to recover after the three month period. We will not expect global tourism to recover until mid 2021. This means more will close.
That means 4 million people may be out of work and will be unable to work elsewhere. since majority of these are in the rural areas, the impact on local economies are significant.
Thus, with all the jobs that may be lost, it matters that these tourism enterprises survive. Our economic growth and its potential to generate jobs depends on how much support this vital sector receives at this time.