THE Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) is confident that the country’s tourism industry will bounce back and continue on its growth path once Martial Law in Mindanao is lifted.
The PTAA also called for a stakeholders’ meeting to discuss the various issues currently affecting the industry.
PTAA President Marlene Jante said on Tuesday that perception is the biggest concern right now especially for those who have not been to the country yet.
“The mere mention of the words Martial Law can easily scare tourists away. But we understand and support the government in its actions in Mindanao. The problem in Marawi must be contained. But we know, as travel agents, that most of Mindanao and the rest of the country are safe destinations for tourists to enjoy,” Jante said.
She added: “The country has seen worse situations in the past and every time, our tourism industry has bounced back. We in the PTAA believe that the series of incidents over the past several weeks are just temporary setbacks.”
She noted that with Martial Law expected to last for only 60 days since its proclamation on May 23, both the government and the private sector should come together to craft a short-term plan for the tourism industry covering the rest of the year and 2018.
Jante expects that there will be a decline in tourist arrivals and receipts in May and during this month, even after the country posted a healthy 12-percent growth in arrivals for the first quarter of the year as compared to the same period in 2016.
“This is the reason why our association is currently conducting an internal survey among members. We want to see how the recent developments have impacted their respective businesses. This will be a good gauge on how the industry is performing,” she said.
Jante said they will be asking all their members to provide data over the past two months and assess how the travel advisories, all the way to the time the Marawi siege erupted, have affected their operations.
She said the data gathered and subsequent analysis will then be forwarded to the Department of Tourism (DOT).
“There has always been a high level of communication and discussion between the PTAA and the DOT. We are more than glad to provide our inputs to them on anything related to the country’s tourism,” Jante said.
Last April, the US, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, France and New Zealand issued separate travel advisories advising their citizens not to travel to Central Visayas because of the serious threat of kidnappings.
After a month, the US, Canada, UK and Australia issued a second travel advisory, advising their citizens against travelling to Palawan because of potential terrorist activities.
Then there were the Marawi and Resorts World Manila incidents along with the flak the DOT received over its new tourism campaign.
“We do not want to add further to what has happened with the new tourism campaign because to us, that is an issue that can be easily resolved. What we want is for every stakeholder in the industry to come together and chart a united path for the country’s tourism industry,” Jante added.
Meanwhile, Jante remains confident that if everyone in the industry works together, the government target of 6.5 million tourist arrivals and 73.3 million domestic travelers for the year remains achievable.
The PTAA, established in 1979, is the country’s biggest tourism association. With more than 500 members nationwide, it is the leading partner of the government in promoting the tourism industry.