DOMESTIC TRAVEL is key to the recovery of the Philippine tourism industry, which was among the hardest hit sectors during the Luzon-wide lockdown, according to the Department of Tourism.

In a statement on Monday, the agency said 77% of people it had polled expressed willingness to travel locally once coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

“Domestic travel will be the main priority as fewer people are likely to travel internationally in the near future,” it said.

“This is due to reduced incomes and travel budgets in the light of the pandemic’s impact on the economy,” it added.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte locked down the entire Luzon island in mid-March, suspending work, classes and public transportation to contain the pandemic.

The Tourism department noted that despite the risks, more than half of the respondents were looking forward to travel for leisure even in the absence of a vaccine.

It said 12,000 people had participated in the poll conducted in May. — Charmaine A. Tadalan