NEDA: Tourism sector hardest hit by COVID-19 in CV
CEBU CTIY, Aug. 25 (PIA) — The tourism industry in Central Visayas bore the biggest brunt of the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in the region.
With tourism being one of the economic drivers, the imposition of travel bans and community quarantines greatly affected businesses and livelihood all over the region.
According to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA-7) Regional Director Efren Carreon, in the past years, the average annual growth rate of Central Visayas was at around 7.5 percent.
“In previous years, Central Visayas has been one of the fastest-growing regions in the country. We are proud of that and we are thankful for our stakeholders who are working really hard to make our economy go up in a sustainable manner,” said Carreon.
However, due to the pandemic, the total income foregone from international tourist arrivals for the first quarter of 2020 is pegged at about US$249.9-M or P12.5-B.
Of the total amount, US$99-M are from the accommodation sector, US$93-M from restaurants, US$39-M from retail and shopping, and US$17.5-M from local transportation.
For the 2nd quarter of this year, the total income foregone is at US$464.8-M or P23-B.
The spike in the number of losses in the 2nd quarter is attributed to the travel bans imposed in the country.
The pandemic has also disrupted jobs in the region with a total of 9,519 establishments reported to be affected as of June 30, 2020 based on reports from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
Of the total, there were 2,858 businesses that adopted a flexible working arrangement while 6,651 have temporarily closed.
This resulted in 261,828 affected workers in the region, most of whom are located in the tri-cities of Cebu, Mandaue, and Lapu-Lapu.
Carreon added that the unemployment rate in the region also went up as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic based on the results of the labor-force survey conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) covering the period January to March this year.
“The results confirmed our observation and fear nga nisaka ang atong unemployment rate. During the first quarter, the unemployment rate went up to 16.7 percent. Taas ni compared to the same period in April 2019 which is only 5.3 percent,” said the NEDA-7 regional director.
To help infuse growth back into the regional economy, NEDA-7 has already prepared the Central Visayas COVID-19 Regional Recovery Plan 2020-2022 as early as May this year.
Carreon said the agriculture sector plays a key role in the regional recovery plan after the said sector posted a 1.6 percent increase amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NEDA-7 director also praised the local government units (LGUs) in their response to the pandemic, saying that the LGUs will play a crucial role in the recovery of the regional economy as well.
Carreon also appealed to businesses to save their employees amid the pandemic.
“If there’s an opportunity to save the employment of some people, that’s also one way of helping our country and our fellow Filipinos. Kung pwede pa lang di ma lay-off or di mawad-an ug trabaho ang empleyado (If possible, avoid lay-offs or cutting down jobs),” he said. (poc/PIA7)