NEWS, PROJECTS, ANALYSIS

Bohol and the Pandemic: Tourist Sentiment

by Mark Richard Evidente, Elton Evidente,

Katrina de Guzman, Ann Geron, Justine Razon


At mid-July, 2020, the Philippines had the second-highest number of COVID-19 infections in South-east Asia, breaching 70,000 active cases, with at least 2,000 daily new cases, centered in Metro Manila and Cebu City. Tourism destinations and enterprises had only been permitted small steps toward reopening as operators and local governments struggled to examine how best to jumpstart the economy while implementing safe protocols laid out by the IATF or the Inter-Agency Task Force for COVID-19.


The Department of Tourism (DOT), however, shared the optimism of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in expressing confidence in the recovery of the Philippine tourism industry once lockdowns are lifted.


The Industry


Even before the full measure of travel and quarantine restrictions took effect, Philippine tourism revenue from foreign arrivals had already decreased by 35% in the first three months of 2020. The country only generated PHP 85 billion from foreign arrivals during the first quarter of 2020 compared to last year’s PHP 134 billion. But moving deeper into 2020 with the combination of general concern regarding public health, the impact on traveler finances from lockdowns, and with travel and quarantine restrictions place, the tourism industry will have no choice but to survive until a resolution is found to the pandemic itself.


One such survival strategy being examined by industry leaders and government officials is the setting up “travel bubbles” or travel corridors in reopening tourism destinations in cleared or unaffected areas. They are eyeing strategic destinations like Boracay, Palawan, and Bohol that have their own international airports and visitors can be properly monitored for infections.


The Challenge


As the country focuses on recovery, it is important to highlight that tourism is not just a headcount of visitors but it is also an industry that generates jobs and ultimately supports communities.


TwoEco, through its series of surveys (Philippine Tourism, the Pandemic, and Sustainability; and Sentiments on Tourism in Boracay After the Lockdown) aimed to capture the overall sentiments of travelers during this pandemic and how best to support, not just the destinations’ enterprises but more importantly, its communities.


In our previous survey, “Philippine Tourism, the Pandemic, and Sustainability”, a large proportion (73.4%) of respondents felt that the quarantine and lockdowns have severely and/or significantly affected their finances. Additionally, travelers are more likely to choose remote areas or natural destinations rather than major or urban destinations. This tells us that tourists have lost savings and are inclined to travel to isolated and secluded areas.


Bohol, as a major tourist destination, offers a mix of leisure-oriented, natural, and cultural sites. How can the destination address these sentiments of tourists while maintaining health protocols? Are tourists still willing to travel to Bohol despite added regulations? Is Panglao Island still a viable destination despite these regulations?


Read the full report at http://bit.ly/BoholCOVIDSurveyReport

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