Interview conceded in English to Senior journalist Fabiana Ceyhan
1- The world has been suffering a lot with this pandemic. How is the Philippines situation now? Has the country already opened the economy?
The Philippine economy slowed down after growth dropped in the first quarter of 2020.
Our economy’s contraction was greater than earlier predicted. The Philippines has been one of Asia’s fastest-growing economies before the coronavirus pandemic. But like everywhere else, measures to contain the outbreak weighed heavily on our domestic demand and investments, and the budget deficit is expected to rise sharply this year. Our government’s priority is the heath and safety of our people, therefore, it has allotted a huge amount of money to address health concerns and ensure that every Filipino is safe and healthy.
The Philippine Government has begun to ease restrictions slowly in what it considers “low-risk areas” to restart the economy and allow people to go back to work. It is also implementing a 1.4 trillion peso (US$ 28 Billion) relief program to mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic that has infected thousands of people in the Philippines and killed more than 700.
We do, however, expect our country to rebound in 2021, with growth forecast between 7 % and 8 %, supported by an economic recovery stimulus program to cushion the impact of the pandemic.
2- As one of the most attractive tourism destinations, when is the Philippines ready to receive again tourists from all over the world?
There are temporary entry restrictions in place for tourists since 22 March 2020. Our concern now is to ensure that everyone is safe and following health protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 throughout the country.
As of first of June , the Philippine Department of Tourism assisted 27,634 stranded foreign tourists and 9,354 stranded domestic tourists from all regions in the Philippines by arranging land and sea transfers, facilitating bookings, coordinating with the city and provincial governments for border passage, and by launching special flights to bring the tourists to the capital Manila where they took international flights out of the country. A total of 20 special flights organized by the Department of Tourism for stranded foreign tourists and 8 flights for our stranded local tourists free-of-charge were arranged.
3- What are the programs to have tourists in safe way to the country and to the tourists?
The safety of both tourists and tourist workers is an important concern for us. The Department of Tourism issued guidelines to ensure the health and safety of hotels and other accommodation establishments under the “new normal” following the protocols set by the Philippine health authorities and other agencies. The guidelines regulate the procedures and practices in guest handling, reception and concierge, housekeeping, food and beverage services, kitchen sanitation and disinfection, and others. We are also ensuring that safety measures are in place in our airports, transport services, tourist information centers and sites, provision of disinfectants in public places, and training our tourist workers to become more conscious of health and safety protocols.
4- Please explain to our readers about the best tourist destinations that can in a near future be interested for Brazilians.
In 2019, there were 10,035 Brazilian tourists who visited the Philippines, registering a 36 % increase from 2018. This number will certainly decrease this year, perhaps in all countries around the world, because of the severe damage brought by the pandemic crisis.
But we Filipinos are optimistic of what is in store for the future. We have learned a lot from this crisis and now we are undertaking steps towards recovery. It is essential for us to become better prepared to face the challenges in our economy and tourism.
To our Brazilian friends, this is what I would like to say to you:
The Philippines is not only about breathtaking nature and beaches. There are a wide variety of exhilarating adventures, relaxing getaways, diverse cultures, arts and traditions, and exciting cuisine that you can discover and can satisfy the wanderlust you must be feeling right now.
But until we can travel again, please stay at home, dream, and #WakeUpInPH by planning your next dream vacation to the Philippines.
Visit https://philippines.travel/wakeupinph to enjoy the virtual experiences. See you all in the Philippines !