The Philippines stands to lose up to 1.2 million Chinese visitors this year due to the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, Deputy Speaker and Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel said Sunday.
“The number of Chinese holidaymakers this year could plunge to as low as 500,000, possibly even less, depending on how long the virus lingers,” he said.
A total of 1,743,309 vacationers from China arrived in the Philippines in 2019, up 38.58 percent from 1,257,962 in 2018, according to the Department of Tourism.
Chinese nationals accounted for 21.10 percent of the 8,260,913 foreigners that visited the Philippines last year, the DOT said.
The DOT earlier said that apart from the projected huge drop in Chinese visitors, it also expects a general decline of at least 10 percent in all other foreigners arriving in the Philippines this year.
“Even if the virus is suppressed by the second quarter, we’re afraid the damage to our tourism sector has already been done,” Pimentel said.
“We do not anticipate a quick rebound in Chinese visitor arrivals, assuming two-way air travel between China and the Philippines is eventually restored,” Pimentel said.
“China might thereafter temporarily discourage its middle-class families from venturing overseas on tour groups and flight/hotel vacation packages,” Pimentel said.
“Beijing might instead encourage families to spend their money in the mainland to enable China’s economy to recover right away,” Pimentel said.