Tourism, agriculture in the recovery effort

Published June 25, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

E CARTOON JUN 26, 2020Our top tourist  attraction, Boracay island, was  reopened  last June 16, part of the gradual resumption of economic activity  after  the lockdowns in various areas  of the country due  to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tourism operations may now resume on the island  but only at 50 percent capacity in  Modified General Community  Quarantine  (MGCQ).  Other  popular tourist  destinations, such as Baguio and Bohol,  are  also reopening at 50 percent capacity.

Boracay is now accepting  visitors from the rest of Western Visayas.  Secretary  of Tourism  Berna  Romulo  Puyat  said  there have been cruise ships visiting the island but foreign visitors are still not allowed.

Tourism  is  one of the leading programs  of the country as it starts planning for the post-coronavirus period.   Inbound  tourism  contributed  P2.48 trillion to the  Philippine economy in 2019, Secretary Puyat said, 10.8 percent higher  than the  P2.24 trillion  in the previous year  2018. Domestic  tourism  contributed  P3.14 trillion in 2019, 10.4 percent  more than  the P2.85 trillion in 2018.

The reopening  of Boracay last June 15, even if only to local visitors and at only 50 percent of the usual capacity, is  perhaps the brightest and the most hopeful  note in  our country’s plans for recovery after  three to four months  of various levels  of quarantine which  brought economic  activity of all kinds to a stop.

One  other  area  with  great possibilities in the recovery planning is  agriculture. Secretary of Agriculture  William Dar said early  this week that in the search for employment for  thousands of Overseas Filipino Workers  (OFWs)  who have been forced  to return home after  COVID-19 ravaged he economies of  hundreds of countries where our OFWs were working.

With the slowdown in the Philippine  economy,  the  Department of Labor forecasts  that by December, 2021, at  least one million OFWs  will be forced  to return home. As of last month,  it said,  323,537 OFWs had been  displaced  from their jobs, mostly in the Middle East.  The Department  of Labor  and Employment forecasts  at least one million will be forced  to return  home by December, 2021.

Agribusiness  presents  a  great  opportunity not  only for employment  but  also for investment, Secretary Dar said.  Today agriculture  contributes  only a minor part of the nation’s annual  economic growth , he said.  We even have to  import  our  nation’s  rice  needs  from Thailand and Vietnam.

The COVID-19 pandemic  is not  yet  over  but is on its way down  and it is time to start planning  for the  new  world. The Philippines is fortunate to have at least  these  two areas –tourism and agriculture –where we have    great   potentials  and opportunities.