LEGAZPI CITY --- The tourism industry in Albay has suffered some P 500 million in revenue losses due to the travel and health restrictions imposed by the national government due to the existence of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, the Provincial Tourism and Cultural Affairs Office (PTCAO) in Albay reported.
Dorothy Colle, PTACAO chief, said the province’s tourism and hotel industry lost P500 million in revenues during the first half of the year due to the community quarantine guidelines, which aimed to prevent and stop the spread of Covid-19.
To recall, the national government’s Interagency Task Force for the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has placed the entire Luzon island areas under the enhanced community quarantine (EQC) on March 17, restricting movements of people, including foreign and local travels aimed to curb the rising Covid-19 cases across the country particularly in the National Capital Region and other areas.
Citing the 2019 Albay tourist arrival statistics, Colle said tha during the first six months of 2019 the office has recorded nearly a million in local and foreign tourist arrivals in the province, bringing in some P499 million revenues for tour, hotel and restaurants firms and other tourism related businesses.
She said “this was our baseline figure in computing the revenue losses it had generated from the 30 tourism accredited destination areas and 258 hotel and lodging establishments in the 15 towns and three cities of the province.
Colle said “a foreign visitors spends around P4,000 a day in tour, hotel and food while a local tourist spends P1,200 a day. These do not include souvenir items they bought while touring the province.”
When Bicol region was placed under the modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) in June, Albay Gov. Al Francis Bichara, in coordination with the Bicol IATF, has issued an executive order easing the restriction of movement of persons insofar as tourism travel is concerned.
Bichara in a phone interview, admitted that Covid-19 has indeed dented the tourism industry, which he considered as among the major pump prime industry that stimulates economic activity in Albay.
The Albay governor, who is also engage in a hotel and entertainment business , said “the health situation affecting the industry is really bad.” He likened it to the recession in 1984 triggered by the assassination of former Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr., where people refused to spend money because of uncertainties.
He said the recovery scenario for the tourism industry would depend largely on how government would address the covid-19 pandemic.
Bichara said allowing the travel and tourism establishments to reopen on a limited capacity would help the industry to survive the economic slump on condition they strictly follow the health protocols.
Colle said the executive order issued by Bichara has allowed tourism businesses to operate on a limited capacity.
The 30 tourist destination areas in Albay allowed to accept tourists are: Uson Beach Marine Sanctuary; Pinamuntugan Island; Namanday, Cabungahan; Drew Island and La Consolacion; Mataas, Maurpuerta Rock formation; and Cabbulacao Rock Formation View Deck, all in Bacacay town.
Legazpi Boulevard; Albay Park and WildLife in Legazpi; Cagsawa Ruins; Farm Plate in Daraga town; Solong Eco Park; Hoyop-hoyopan Cave, Quitinday Hills and Quituinan Hill in Camalig town.
Victoria Bay Resort; Sabando Ocampo Beach Resort; Trinity Isaland in Oas; Jovellar Underground River in Jovellar town; Buhawi Hill; Aquasilvi Culture Project and Mangrove in Pioduran town; Hobbit Hill; Paayahayan sa Bulod; Mt. Masaraga Campsite; Batong Laguyon; and Tambac Beach in Ligao City; Villa Miranda Farm and Resort; Attorneys Beach Resort; and Mag-Aga Beach Resort in Libon town.
Of the 258 registered hotels in Albay, only 115 or 45 percent were issued certificate of authority to operate, most of which are located in this city.
The 50 Legazpi-based hotel allowed to operate, four were designated as health frontliners and Locally Stranded Individuals (LSI) quarantine facilities.
As this developed, Edna Cynthia Berces, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Bicol assistant regional director, in an interview said the Bicol Regional Recovery Program (RRP) for Covid-19 would require a total of P295 billion in investments spread over three years.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in Bicol said some P5.4 billion in revenue losses were reported by various enterprises due to the temporary closure when the region was placed under ECQ.
Based from DTI data, topping the list of provinces with revenue losses due to the temporarily closure of businesses were Camarines Sur with P2.6 billion, followed by Albay – P1.1 billion, Catanduanes – P625 million, Sorsogon –P464 million, Masbate P389 million, and Camarines Norte with P148 million losses.
Rodrigo Aguilar DTI Bicol regional director said the ECQ for the period March 16 to April 30 this year has resulted to the closure of 61,522 business establishments or 61 percent of the 75,000 registered enterprises in the region.
As a result of the two months lockdown, some 139,321 workers were rendered temporarily jobless.
During the ECQ period in the region, only 14,000 vital and essential business establishments involved in the distribution of power, water, food production and distribution, banking, health services, were permitted to operate, he said.