Tourism in the Philippines: When will it be safe again?
As Coronavirus continues to wreak havoc across the world, the impact is being felt particularly keenly in countries that rely on tourism to bolster their economies.
With many planes grounded around the globe, there are some early suggestions that international travel will be opened up, with ‘air bridges’ allowing quarantine-free travel between some European nations.
The Philippines is another country that relies heavily on tourism, but Covid-19 remains a significant issue in the country, which is back on a tightly enforced lockdown after a recent lifting on restrictions saw infections rise steeply.
How important is tourism to the Philippines?
Government figures showed that 8.26 million international visitors made a trip to the Philippines in 2019 – breaking official targets.
That influx led to the Philippines tourism industry contributing a huge 13% towards the country’s GDP, with approximately one in every seven Filipino in work employed by the sector.
Currency tracking tools suggest that the native Peso is yet to suffer too strongly, as the world’s markets continue to adjust to the pandemic and its effects.
However, with manufacturing and export also crucial to the Philippines’ economy, an extended lockdown could push the country into further financial trouble.
Can I fly into the Philippines?
A handful of international flights are still being made into the Philippines, mostly to Manila through Hong Kong, however visas are not being issued to foreign nationals in response to the Coronavirus.
If flying on a Filipino passport, you may still be subjected to enforced quarantine on arrival.
When will the Philippines reopen?
It remains highly uncertain when the Philippines will reopen to tourists, with several resorts opting against throwing the doors wide again when the government initially relaxed a ban on tourism activities.
The daily infection rate remains high in the country, leading to further hesitance to open up the country again, with the recent relaxing of lockdown measures having appeared to have had a negative impact and a vaccine yet to be found.
Are the same issues found across the region?
Neighbouring countries Vietnam and Indonesia have had vastly contrasting successes in battling the virus.
Vietnam recorded fewer than 30 cases of Covid-19 through June and has been open to tourists since April, with a surge in flights across the country seen.
Indonesia, with a similar geography to the Philippines, has recently decided to reopen its national parks, with tourism even more vital to its economy.
However, this is not based on the same medical grounds as Vietnam, with new cases in Indonesia still in four figures on a daily basis.
Given the similar number of new cases between the countries, all eyes from the Philippines may well be on how this reopening in Indonesia works to influence future decisions from Manila.