WTTC sees PHL tourism raising $155B by 2032

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat (center) is flanked by WTTC President and CEO Julia Simpson and WTTC Chairman Arnold Donald at the news conference opening the three-day 21st WTTC Global Summit in Manila.

THE Philippines received high praise from a global tourism body for leading the way in reopening the Asia-Pacific region to international leisure travel.

In a news conference on Wednesday to mark the opening of the 21st World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit, WTTC Chairman Arnold  Donald said, “The Philippines has led by example and spearheading the reopening and recovery of the region,” which in 2019, was actually the fastest growing in the world. He noted that there were over 1,000 delegates attending the conference at the Manila Marriott Hotel, 600 of who are foreign visitors.

WTTC officials also expressed optimism about the country’s tourism prospects, as it announced partial data from its Philippines Economic Impact Report. Its President and CEO Julia Simpson said, “We forecast an average annual growth rate of 6.7 percent over the next 10 years here in the Philippines exceeding the Philippines’ expected overall economic average growth rate of 5.6 percent.”

As such, WTTC forecasts that travel and tourism’s contribution to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) could be worth more than $155 billion in 2032, accounting for 21.4 percent of the whole economy.

She added, employment will also “grow annually by an average of 3 percent for the next 10 years generating a critically important 2.9 million new jobs, which will account for 21.5 percent of all jobs in the Philippines.”

‘Fourth fastest growing economy’

THE positive projections for the country stem from the increase in the number of domestic trips taken in the country, giving a massive 129-percent boost to the sector’s contribution to GDP in 2021. This rise was equivalent to $41 billion versus the $17.8 billion recorded in 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic led to global travel restrictions. “The impressive rise of the sector’s contribution to the country’s economy saw it ranked as the world’s fourth fastest growing economy during 2021,” said Simpson.

However, this was still short of the $93-billion prepandemic level in 2019, which accounted for 22.5 percent of the country’s GDP.

She stressed that growth in 2021 supported 7.8 million jobs in the country, growing an “impressive” 20 percent from 2020.

“[The growth led] to the recovery of 1.8 million more jobs compared to the previous year. Our export analysis shows  the economy has turned a corner and is firmly on the road to recovery. And I really want to publicly recognize the work of [Tourism] Secretary Bernadette [Romulo Puyat] for her leadership. She has absolutely led Southeast Asia and she has been removing restrictions, which has allowed so many of us to be here today, and she has been reopening borders and consequently reopening the  Philippines.”

Seamless travel

IN her opening remarks, Romulo Puyat described the three-day conference as a  “momentous occasion” for the global tourism industry striving to revive and rediscover travel, and significant for the Philippines hosting a large international event for the first time, shortly after the country reopened to international leisure travelers.

During the open forum, she declined to make projections on tourism arrivals for the year. “Of course. I don’t think it can be, as soon as the 2019 levels, but at least we are getting there. But we are also still working on making it as easier and seamless for all travelers.” In 2019, inbound tourist arrivals reached 8.26 million, the highest in history. With the international pandemic restrictions, however, arrivals fell to 1.48 million, then plunged by 89 percent to 163,879.

From February 10, when the Philippines reopened to foreign guests, to April 18, 2022, arrivals reached 272,345. Of this number, close to 60 percent or 161,666 were foreigners and 110,679 were balikbayans (homecoming Filipinos).

Local tour operators have expressed surprise at the quick recovery of their bookings from foreign visitors especially from the US, Canada, and Europe.

Image credits: WTTC



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