The Philippines, home to among the world's largest malls, will hold a monthlong shopping sale next month, a move that could reinvigorate the retail sector hurt by the virus scare.
Mall operators like SM Prime Holdings Inc. and Ayala Land Inc. to more upscale retailers like SSI Group Inc. will participate in the sale, which was announced a year ago and is part of the government's six-year tourism roadmap.
The Philippines' promotion comes as retail sales across Asia are weighed down by a coronavirus scare that curbed tourism and kept shoppers inside their home. Sales in SM Prime's Philippine malls fell as much as 20 per cent in the first few weeks of the virus while sales in its seven malls in China were cut by half.
The government is also banking on domestic tourism to help offset what appears to be a sharp decline in international travellers, based on data from the Manila International Airport Authority. Private consumption accounts for about 74 per cent of the economy, while tourism makes up about 12 per cent.
Flights to and from Manila's airport fell 22 per cent after the Southeast Asian nation imposed a travel ban on places hit by the virus. International travellers saw a 16.7 per cent year-on-year drop to 1.35 million in the January 25 to February 17 period, according to data. Domestic travellers declined 3.4 per cent to 1.4 million.
"It's a lost opportunity but at the end of the day, there is time to recover," Manila airport chief Eddie Monreal said. "Hopefully, we'll be able to recover soon."