File photo.

Current tourist arrivals in Puerto Princesa City have declined by nearly half compared to the same period from previous years because of the growing concern over the spread of the deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

City tourism chief Aileen Cynthia Amurao said Tuesday that in January 2020, the number of domestic and foreign tourist arrivals was only 60,714 compared to the same period in 2019 that had 110,046.

She said the decrease was 44.82 percent or 49,332.

Amurao added that the number further declined in February 2020 with only 22,905 tourist arrivals compared to the same period in 2019 that had 117,095.

Amurao said that the decline was even significant at 80.44 percent or 94,190.

She said COVID-19 is primarily affecting the tourism industry in Puerto Princesa which could in turn have serious economic impacts.

“Malaki ang epekto siguro sa pangkalahatang ekonomiya. Numero unong apektado ang ating turismo. Napakalaki ng decrease, umabot ito ng 80.44 percent for this month against February last year,” she said.

Amurao believes that if a solution is not found the soonest possible time, the decline might even be higher.

Figures will continue to decrease in the coming months due to the cancellation of conventions and meetings as they follow the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) memorandum discouraging the conduct of any event or mass gathering.

“Summer na — ito na ang paakyat na sa peak season, pero ng dahil dito [COVID-19] ay tatamlay ang ating turismo. Hindi natin alam kung how long this will take,” she said.

Amurao said, however, that the CTD continues to coordinate with the sectors related to tourism to determine how the city government can help them.

“Patuloy naman yong aming pakikipag-ugnayan sa ating prinadong sektor para tingnan kung paano sila matutulungan,” Amurao said.

She appealed to the tourism establishments to understand the situation and to support government efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“Nanawagan tayo sa mga tourism establishments natin na sana maunawaan nila ang sitwasyon. Pare-pareho tayong apektado kaya maging mahinahon tayo at protektahan ang ating mga sarili,” she said.

Amurao said they are expecting around 2,000 public accountants to attend a convention in the city in April, but due to the coronavirus disease, it was cancelled even if it is still over a month ahead.

“Meron tayong, actually ay naka-schedule sa April 1-4 — ito ‘yong sa public accountants na dito ang convention nila. We are expecting around 2,000 pero nag-desisyon na nga ang management na lahat call off muna,” she said.