By Argyll Cyrus Geducos and Ellson Quismorio
President Duterte is hoping that medical experts will soon find a cure for the 2019-novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV ARD) as the effects of the virus in the country was already bothering him, Malacañang said.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo made the statement after it was reported that the Philippine tourism industry has lost at least P10 billion due to the travel ban being implemented by the government to contain the spread of the virus in the country.
In a radio interview, Panelo said President Duterte was already worried since the Philippine economy was starting to get affected.
“Every President will be bothered every time na (the) economy is affected. Kaya nga ginagawan ng paraan (That’s why we’re doing something about it),” he said Sunday morning.
“Lahat tayo sa buong mundo na apektado niyan, ganyan ang resulta (Everyone of us affected by the virus are suffering from the same thing). What we can do is to stop the spread of the disease,” he said.
According to the Philippine Tour Operators Association, about 50 percent of reservations in Boracay, Bohol, Cebu, and Palawan have been cancelled as the government continues to implement a travel ban to and from China.
The Department of Tourism (DOT) said it was eyeing to boost promotions in South Korea and the United States, the country’s top and 3rd largest tourist markets, respectively, and was already coordinating with hotels and airlines to give discounts to attract more visitors.
Panelo enjoined the public in praying for a cure to the dreaded virus.
The 2019-nCoV scare will make the Philippines realize the importance of Chinese tourists to local tourism industry.
“With this nCoV scare I’m sure the tourist arrivals will decrease especially [since] our government is imposing a ban on arrivals coming from China,” Surigao del Sur 2nd district Rep. Johnny Pimentel said.
“I’m sure we will feel it because the average expenses of every tourist per day is between $84 and $100 and if you multiply this by a million tourists, we will be a losing almost $100 million so definitely there will be repercussions in our tourism industry,” explained Pimentel, a Deputy Speaker of the House in the 18th Congress.
Deputy Speaker in Camarines Sur 2nd district Rep. LRay Villafuerte wants the DOT to focus on enticing domestic tourists to visit local “hotspots” as a way to offset the expected losses from the travel ban.
“As the tourism industry braces for a major hit with the timely imposition by President Duterte of a temporary travel ban to China and its territories Hong Kong and Macao, and to include all foreigners who have visited these areas over the past two weeks, it is time for the DOT to make a more aggressive push for domestic tourism… by selling to our countrymen our ‘hotspots,’ particularly the fave destinations for extreme sports and ecotourism,” he said.
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