Footloose economy

Published August 19, 2022, 7:57 AM

by Fil C. Sionil

Lest hardcore economists make a howler, allow me to exercise that so-called literary license. Footloose economy popped up just as I heard Tourism Secretary Maria Esperanza Christina Garcia Frasco highlighted tourism’s “enormous potential to fuel the engine of economic growth.”

One has to be footloose to be able to travel freely and unrestricted in order to become a contributor to resuscitating the tourism industry from its lethargic state being one of the hardest hit by the lingering virus.

Comparable to the construction sector, a vibrant tourism industry has cascading effects on other subsectors of the economy. It increases consumption spending as well as enlivens the services sector, which according to Socio-economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan represents the bigger slice in the growth of the domestic economy.

The bustling activities in the bazaar market in Greenhills and the opening of establishments with sparkling neon lights are just some of the indications that tourism is alive.

All things considered, on the inflow side, it means additional dollar receipts coming in. Based on latest figures, tourists from the US topped the list, followed by Australians and coming close behind are the South Koreans.

I agree with Ms. Frasco when she told the gathering of members of the Philippine Tour Operators Association, Inc. (PHILTOA) that this is a “promising time for the (tourism industry) in our country.”

From my viewpoint during the gathering, the verve, the vigor of the PHILTOA members were contagious. I can fully empathize because pre-pandemic road trips in the countryside and neighboring provinces and of course offshore was a passion.

Pre-pandemic, for budgetary purposes, my travel calendar schedules for most part of the year have been all planned out although unscheduled trips are always welcome. Way back, superstores in the molds of S&R and Landers that offered wide array of both local and imported goods, such as Q-Tips, have yet to make its presence felt here. But their low inventory of Q-Tips signals that I must prepare for another trip abroad.

But the pandemic has changed that altogether. The situation and the condition have changed. Revenge travel is now in fashion. Comparatively, travelling now is easier. Though there are certain protocols and requirements one has to comply with, travel offshore is now allowed.

During the height of the pandemic, travelling, even just crossing the border provinces, going on a road trip was prohibited. It, too, was a tedious and relatively expensive process with all the quarantine and house arrest.

Heard along the corridors of the tourism industry that stakeholders are currently prepping-up for a three-day Philippine Travel Mart event that would showcase vacation deals at reasonable cost.

Admittedly, the footloose that I am, I am a sucker for the travel mart, which to my recollection is almost always a blockbuster. It’s one of the biggest and highly anticipated yearly travel marts in the country before the pandemic.

The saying that circulated along social media platforms: I dream of the day when I will walk down the aisles and hear those magical words” this is your captain speaking” will now be a reality.

Indeed, tourism is an engine that could fuel the wheels of economic growth.

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