THE tourism industry may include firms that have no option but to exit the industry, and the government’s recovery plan should support such companies, a think tank official said.

Maria Cherry Lyn S. Rodolfo, an advisory board member at the Dr. Andrew L. Tan Center for Tourism research at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM), said: “Given the current situation and the longer period of recovery that may likely happen… those enterprises that are willing to actually exit the industry and pursue other opportunities in other sectors of the economy should be also included in these recovery programs.”

Ms. Rodolfo, who was speaking at a webinar organized by AIM on Wednesday, said such companies could also be assisted if they decide to repurpose their facilities for other activities.

The acknowledgement that some companies will have to leave the industry underscores the devastation visited upon tourism by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. International arrivals to the Philippines declined 62% to 1.3 million in the first five months, while domestic tourism was largely shut down by lockdowns and the suspension of air travel. Some provinces are also imposing quarantines on visitors, effectively deterring domestic tourism.

Ms. Rodolfo noted that some hotel businesses have offered their services as accommodation for stranded foreign visitors or overseas Filipino workers.

“All of these networks are present, but the key question is: which of these strong networks can we strengthen further and which of these weak networks or poor networks in our respective local destinations can we assist or can we help so that later on we can also tap them or harness their strength to allow us to become more a resilient destination?” she added.

She cited the initial results of a Safe Travel Alliance survey, whose respondents rated air travel as “the mode that is actual safest at this point,” a finding which could be at odds with the Department of Tourism’s strategy of focusing on domestic land travel in its recovery plans. — Jenina P. Ibañez