Tourism industry understaffed for ‘revenge travel’

Back to almost normal. Fans who waited for the arrival of K-pop act Super Junior at the Suvarnabhumi International Airport begin to disperse after midnight. On the whole, Thais displayed mask discipline — perhaps equal or even better than our own. — PHOTO BY KAP MACEDA AGUILA

By Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson, Reporter

THE tourism industry is struggling to staff up for the wave of “revenge travel,” with many employees from businesses that shut down having moved on to other jobs, the travel agency industry association said.

“The biggest problem is we lack frontliners. The travel agencies that closed (saw their) employees look for other jobs. Now that the business is back because of revenge travel, it’s not easy for them to get their old employees back,” Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) President Michelle G. Taylan said during a press conference on Friday.

“We are now getting back to where we used to be… We are in need of tourism frontliners so that means jobs in the tourism industry are coming back,” she added.

Ms. Taylan said that the industry is hoping to promote destinations in Mindanao and others that are less well known or commercial.

“Mostly we will be promoting provinces, especially those not widely visited,” she said.

“We have to promote the entire Philippines, not just popular destinations like Boracay,” she added.

According to the PTAA, the top travel destinations this year are Boracay, Palawan, Siargao, and Cebu.

Ms. Taylan said many PTAA members are urging the government to establish a tourist police force and reduce fees for business permit applications.

“Our board members keep mentioning tourist police in order to clean out all the illegal travel agencies,” she said.

“As we are at the peak of the recovery, we are asking for business permits for travel agencies and discounts on taxes from local government units, especially for those not able to renew their permits during the pandemic. If they are going to renew next year, the penalty will be very big,” she added.

Tourism Secretary Maria Esperanza Christina G. Frasco said in speech on Friday that the pace of the industry’s recovery is “promising.”

“As of today, we have over 1.3 million arrivals (since borders reopened). We welcome the recovery of the tourism sector with optimism and hope. The industry is a major economic pillar for our nation’s recovery,” she added.

For 2023, Ms. Taylan projected arrivals to double or triple.

“I am just basing it off the number of bookings. Based on the experience of our members, they are overflowing with bookings,” she added.