THE local tourism industry must decrease its dependency on the Chinese market.
While the impact on China’s travel restrictions on its citizens is yet to be felt, the situation is a wake-up call for local tourism, which in recent years has been banking on the growing Chinese market.
This comes as China moves to contain the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which has already reached several Asian countries and other regions.
Joey Bondoc, senior research manager at Colliers International Philippines, said the industry must diversify its foreign markets.
He said that while the impact isn’t significant yet, it would be a wise decision for hotel operators and condo developers to take advantage of other potential markets.
Currently, China is Cebu’s second largest source of foreign visitors after Korea. Chinese nationals have also grown as strong buyers for condo properties in Cebu in recent years.
“We have other foreigners that would be more than willing to buy or to fill up the void left by the Chinese, if there is, because right now there is no effect yet,” Bondoc told SunStar Cebu.
“If there will be a decline in Chinese tourists, I think it will be a very practical measure for hotel operators or condo developers to target other markets and it will even expand their base of buyers,” he said.
He said developers must cater to the different demands of the market, including Japanese and Koreans, for instance.
In a Jan. 26, 2020 open letter to domestic and overseas travel suppliers and tour operators, the China Association of Travel Services said it was temporarily suspending group tours immediately.
“The General Office of Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic of China issued the document ‘Emergency Notice on Prevention and Control of Coronavirus Infections and Suspending the Business Activities of Tourism Enterprises’  No. 29 which orders all national travel agencies and online travel companies to temporarily suspend business group travel and ‘ticket+hotel’ products effective immediately,” it read.
According to United Nations data, China’s population stands at 1.4 billion with millions of Chinese flying in and out of the country before the virus outbreak.
However, the Chinese government has since restricted outbound and inbound travel, locking down several cities in an effort to contain the spread of the deadly virus.
International news agency AFP reported Wednesday that the number of confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV in China has reached 5,974, surpassing the number of people infected on the mainland by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome epidemic in 2002-2003. (JOB)