The Philippine tourism and travel sector is believed to be firmly on the road to recovery but is unlikely to see pre-pandemic levels soon, stakeholders of the industry revealed Wednesday.

Based on the latest studies by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and Oxford Economics, the local tourism sector is predicted to post an annual average growth rate of 6.7% over the next 10 years, exceeding the expected overall economic average growth rate of 5.6%.

Employment is also seen to grow 3% over the next decade, translating to 2.9 million new jobs to account for 21.5% of the country’s total employment.

“Our expert analysis shows that the economy here, the travel and tourism economy, has turned a corner and is firmly on the road to recovery,” WTTC President and Chief Executive Julia Simpson said in a press conference.

This comes as the same studies show that the sector grew by 129% to account for $41 billion in 2021, marking a rebound from the 81% decline in 2020 when it contributed $17.8 billion.

Citing data from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the tourism sector contributed 12.8% to the country’s gross domestic product pre-pandemic, before falling to 5.4% in 2020.

The Philippines started accepting tourists from 157 visa-free countries in February, before reopening its borders to all foreign tourists earlier this month.

“[In] regard to pre-pandemic levels, of course, I don’t think it can be as soon as the 2019 levels, but at least we are getting there, but we are also still working on making it easier and seamless for all travelers,” Puyat said in the same press conference.

Puyat’s optimism came amid the high uptake in COVID-19 booster shots among tourism workers, with some hotels in the National Capital Region recording up to 100% rates.

“I believe as long as we continue the vaccination, the booster, and implementing health and safety protocols, I think we can see the recovery of tourism,” she said.

“For the past two years we have already shown that we are ready. The two years already have prepared us, and we are prepared to accept all tourists,” Puyat added. —LBG, GMA News


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