Do you know where you’re going to?

By August 23, 2021G Spot

By Virginia Jasmin Pasalo


FOR a country largely dependent on foreign tourism, the Philippines is now dependent on domestic tourism. In a chart entitled, “Domestic versus International Tourism, % of in-country tourism spending, 2019 or latest year”, published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), almost 90 percent accounts for domestic tourism. This reversal was made possible by a shift in the Philippine government strategy to address its woes brought about by the pandemic which forced the reduction of the inflow of tourists in the country.

Aside from the expansion in the target clientele, the strategy also entailed developing destinations and packages offering safer, less crowded, healthier alternatives, catering to a wider participation across social classes. Increased domestic tourism was believed to partly offset some of the negative impact on jobs and businesses displaced by the intermittent lockdowns.

During a recent reunion with family and friends after the lockdown, some preferred visiting places offering activities that also increased their potential to boost their immune system such as exposure to the elements, fresh air, adequate sun, organic food, and a restful ambiance. The youth preferred to go biking, hiking, deep-sea diving, surfing and exploring secluded places they have never been before. While the preference for healthy packages were already emerging, the lockdowns made them imperative, as a means to live longer, as threat to life became an urgent concern, every moment of the day.

However, as new strains of the COVID virus continue to emerge and the population is bombarded with the possibility of quick death instead of developing a mindset to surmount it, the desire to socialize and go outdoors is dampened by the fear of infection, and local tourism will slow down further. In a conversation with a very close friend, he confides his anxiety.

“Agak ni pimmaway nanlapu nen lockdown. Balet akubidak.” (I have not gone out since the lockdown but I am infected with the COVID virus.)

Akin? Panun kan akubid et agka met umpapaway tan bakunated ka la?” (How were you infected when you did not go out and you were already vaccinated?)

“Awey. Amin met a bimmisita diad abong et bakunated la. Agak la amo makapaway tan manpa-inawa ed Caba.” (I do not know. All those who visited me were already vaccinated. I may never get out again and rest in Caba.)

“Magano lan nasumpal yan pandemic. Makabiyahe ka lamet ed Caba.” (This pandemic will be over. You will travel again to Caba.)

More and more people are afraid to go out and it spells disaster for the tourism industry. However, the industry has a choice to inspire confidence in developing more sustainable and resilient models of tourism to reduce its identified vulnerabilities. This requires a stretch of the imagination that goes far beyond its accustomed limits to look for answers. It entails, more importantly, asking the right questions, as propounded in a song from the movie, Mahogany:

Do you know where you’re going to?
Do you like the things that life is showing you
Where are you going to?
Do you know?

Do you get what you’re hopin’ for
When you look behind you, there’s no open door
What are you hopin’ for?
Do you know?

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