Tourism in the Philippines down amid COVID-19 fears

March 5 ------ The Philippine tourism industry is currently suffering amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak, according to JP Soriano's report on "24 Oras" Wednesday. Based on data from the Bureau of Immigration, the Department of Tourism said tourist arrivals have dropped 41% in February. Hotel and resort occupancy is also down by 40% in Boracay, 27% in Cebu and 40% in Bohol. "We're bleeding already. It has not spared any of us in the industry, whether you're a small company or one of the bigger tour operators," Tourism Congress of the Philippines president Jose Clemente III said.

To prevent the tourism industry from further deteriorating, airlines and hotels have already offered discounted rates in various destinations in the country. Tourism Secretary Bernadette Puyat said airlines have already started rolling out discounted flights, while DOT-accredited hotels and resorts have also lowered their prices, offering as much as 70% off their published rates. With the discount, a family of four will only spend P15,000 for roundtrip plane tickets to Boracay instead of the usual P28,000. Meanwhile a two-night accommodation for a regular family room in Boracay will now only cost P6,000 instead of P12,000.

The DOT is also encouraging millennials to use the popular video sharing app TikTok to promote the place s they have visited. "It's a crowdsourcing initiative in order for people to promote where they are in order to entice more people to travel," Tourism Assistant Secretary Howard Lance Uyking said. The DOT added that President Rodrigo Duterte will visit Boracay in March to encourage more Filipinos to travel.