How quickly can Philippines tourism recover?

Can Visayas expect comeback after super typhoon Haiyan?

Tourist destinations in the central Philippine region of Visayas devastated by super typhoon Haiyan could bounce back in three to six months, the lead time for the recovery of Asian destinations similarly affected by natural disasters or terrorist attacks in recent history, one local expert says.

Bill Barnett, managing director of C9 Hotelworks, points to what he calls “big event syndrome”, in which a three- to six-month recovery occurred for Japan’s east coast from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami; Bali from the bombings of 2005; and Indonesia, Thailand, the Maldives and Sri Lanka from the 2004 tsunami.

“Tourists will come back quickly to the affected destinations in the Philippines. People want to help. Overseas Filipinos will come back. People will travel out of sentiment. People who don’t know the Philippines will visit,” he said. “People are travelling on short notice, on shorter-term periods, on LCCs.”

Several things can be learned from the big events of the past, he explained, including turning the negative into positive.

“One of the things we learned from the Bali bombings is that the tourism sector is speaking with one voice, telling the people that the hotels are okay and everything is fine.”

He added that the Philippine Department of Tourism could intervene and press insurance companies into quickly paying the owners of damaged hotels and resorts. However, he questioned whether the campaign brand “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” was still relevant and appropriate.

TTG Asia

[pictured: Philippines; courtesy PATA]

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