MANILA, Feb. 3 (Xinhua) -- The Philippines lost around 400 billion pesos (over 8.3 billion U.S. dollars) in tourism revenue in 2020 due to the sudden fall in tourist arrivals amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a tourism department official said on Wednesday.
Tourism Undersecretary officer-in-charge Roberto Alabado told a congressional hearing that only 1.3 million foreign tourists visited the Philippines in 2020, or more than 80 percent lower than the 8.3 million visitors to the Southeast Asian country in 2019.
The abrupt fall in tourist arrivals affected around 5.7 million jobs in the tourism sector, he added.
"This is a very big blow because we approximately lost around 400 billion pesos in income because of the missing tourists," Alabado told the lawmakers.
Tourism industries contributed 12.7 percent to the Philippine economy in 2019, the Philippines Statistics Authority (PSA) said.
Alabado stressed the need to revive the tourism industry because of its contribution to the economy.
The coronavirus epidemic forced the Philippines and many countries to impose lockdown measures to curb its spread by closing borders. Tourism activities ground to a halt affecting various enterprises and displacing workers.
The Philippine government is slowly easing the domestic travel restrictions as it began reopening destinations for domestic travel with health and safety protocols in place. But few are taking the risk of travel.
The Philippines, which remains under varying lockdown restrictions, now has reported 528,853 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 10,874 deaths. Enditem