The COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the Philippine’s Travel & Tourism sector last year wiped out $37 billion from the nation’s economy and caused two million to lose their jobs.
This was the finding the World Travel & Tourism Council’s annual Economic Impact Report (EIR) today, June 2, revealed.
The annual EIR from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) representing the global Travel & Tourism private sector, reveals the sector’s contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) dropped 41.4 per cent.
Travel & Tourism’s impact on the nation’s GDP fell from USD$ 90 billion (22.5%) in 2019, to USD$ 52.8 billion (14.6%), just 12 months later, in 2020.
The year of damaging travel restrictions which brought much of international travel to a grinding halt, resulted in the loss of two million Travel & Tourism jobs across the country.
These job losses were felt across the entire Travel & Tourism ecosystem, with SMEs, which make up eight out of 10 of all global businesses in the sector, particularly affected.
But while the damage was devastating, WTTC believes it could have been much worse had the government not provided critical financial support to small businesses under the Small Business Wage Subsidy measure.
Furthermore, as one of the world’s most diverse sectors, the impact on women, youth and minorities was significant.
The number of people employed in the Philippine Travel & Tourism sector fell from more than 9.5 million in 2019, to less than 7.6 million in 2020 – a drop of more than a fifth (21.1 percent).
The report also revealed domestic visitor spending declined by 35.5 percent , while international spending fared even worse due to more stringent global travel restrictions, falling by 78.8 per cent.
“The loss of two million Travel & Tourism jobs in the Philippines has had a terrible socio-economic impact,” WTTC Senior Vice President Virginia Messina acknowledged.
“However, we are aware of the government’s strong commitment to our sector and believe that through their efforts in restarting tourism safely, these jobs will be restored,” she added.
“WTTC believes that a clear roadmap for increased mobility including comprehensive rapid testing in place, will bring the certainty needed and set Philippines in a path to recover the two million jobs lost.”
“The Philippines adopted our Safe Travels stamp many months ago, which showed its commitment to the recovery of safe international travel,” Messina noted.
“As the host of our next Global Summit, we are confident that over the coming months, its Travel & Tourism sector will begin to thrive again.”
The ‘green lane’ policy for both national and international vaccinated travellers will also aid recovery.
WTTC research shows that if mobility and international travel resume by this June, the sector’s contribution to global GDP could rise sharply in 2021, by 48.5 percent, year-on-year.
But it will take a long time to vaccinate the global population, particularly those in less advanced countries, or in different age groups.
Hence, WTTC believes we should not discriminate against those who wish to travel but have not been vaccinated.
WTTC says the key to unlocking safe international travel can be achieved through a clear and science-based framework which includes rapid testing, as well as enhanced health and hygiene protocols, including mask wearing.