MANILA— The Department of Tourism (DOT) is maintaining its 9.2 million tourists arrival target for 2020 amid the travel ban on foreigners from China and its special administrative regions by the Philippines and other countries to contain the spread of 2019-novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

“There are no immediate plans to revise the tourism targets for 2020,” DOT Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. told the Philippine News Agency on Tuesday.

Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the ban on “the entry of any person, regardless of nationality, except Filipinos directly coming from China and its special administrative regions” to contain the disease.

Globally, Chinese outbound travel spending accounted for 1.9 percent of the total global outbound spending in 2003, a share that increased to 16.3 percent in 2018, said Tiffany Misrahi, vice president of policy at the World Travel & Tourism Council.

In Manila, China is the second top tourist market with around 1,626,309 visitors from January to November 2019, making it the fastest-growing market, with a growth rate of 40.2 percent from the previous period in 2018.

During a Senate hearing on the 2019-nCoV Acute Respiratory Disease, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the outbreak’s economic impact will likely be felt by the tourism industry following the travel restrictions.

While he did not provide estimates, Dominguez cited figures from the 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak, where tourist arrivals to the Philippines only dropped by 1.3 percent from 1.93 million in 2002 to 1.9 million in 2003.

Dominguez said the arrivals have rebounded by 20.1 percent in 2004, totaling 2.3 million.

The same goes when the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) rattled the world, Philippine tourism has “proved to be resilient”, he said. (PNA)