4.8 mln workers in Philippine tourism industry affected by COVID-19 pandemic

The white-sand resort of Boracay island (File photo: AFP)

MANILA, Oct. 14 (Xinhua) -- At least 4.8 million Filipinos in the tourism industry have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Philippine Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said on Wednesday.

Puyat also told an online news conference that so far 77 percent of international tourism revenues year on year have been lost due to the ban on international tourist arrivals.

Puyat said the tourism sector employed 5.7 million people in 2019. "As of today, 4.8 million workers have been affected -- either they lost their jobs or their salaries got lower," she said.

In 2019 the Philippines recorded 8.26 million in international tourist arrivals and 110 million in domestic tourist arrivals. Tourism industries contributed 12.7 percent to the Philippine economy in 2019, the Philippines Statistics Authority (PSA) said.

The Philippines has slowly begun reopening its destinations for domestic travel with health and safety protocols in place.

Puyat also stressed the need to further reopen the tourism industry. "We have to restart tourism. So many jobs have been lost, and we need to give jobs back," Puyat added.

Puyat said the gradual revival of the tourism industry will bring back jobs and livelihoods to the rural areas, where many tourism products, such as beach, diving, ecotourism, arts, and culture, and farm sites are.

On Oct. 1, the government reopened the world-famous Boracay island resort in the central Philippines.

The Philippines now has 344,713 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 6,372 deaths.

International visitor arrivals in the Philippines slowly climb from a mere 5.36 million in 2015 to 8.26 million in 2019, DOT data showed.