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Albay tourism industry loses P.5-B due to Covid-19



LEGAZPI CITY – The tourism industry in Albay could barely recover from the huge revenue losses it suffered due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, the Provincial Tourism and Cultural Affairs Office (PTCAO) in Albay has reported.

Dorothy Colle, PTCAO chief, said on Friday the province’s tourism and hotel industry lost PHP500 million during the first half of the year due to the government declared community quarantine guidelines a health measure to stop and prevent the spread of the virus.

Colle, citing last year's tourist arrival statistics during the first six months of 2019, said the office has recorded nearly a million in local and foreign tourist arrivals bringing in PHP499 million in tours, hotel, and restaurant accommodations.

“This was our baseline figure in computing the revenue losses it had generated from the 30 tourism-accredited destination areas and 258 hotels and lodging establishments in the 15 towns and three cities of the province," she said.

"A foreign visitor spends around PHP4,000 a day in tour, hotel, and food while a local tourist spends PHP1,200 a day, these do not include souvenir items they bought while touring the province,” she added.

When Bicol was placed under the modified general community quarantine in June, Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara, in coordination with the Bicol IATF, has issued an executive order easing the restrictions of movement of persons in so far as tourism travel is concerned.

Bichara, in a phone interview, admitted the pandemic has indeed dented the industry which he considers as among the major pump prime industry that stimulates economic activity in the province.

Bichara, who is also engaged in the hotel and entertainment business, said “the health situation affecting the industry is really bad."

He likened this to the recession in 1984 triggered by the assassination of former senator Benigno Aquino Jr., where people refused to spend because of uncertainties.

Bichara said the recovery scenario for the tourism industry would depend largely on how the government would address the health issue.

He said allowing the travel and tourism establishments, to reopen on a limited capacity would help the industry to survive the economic slump on condition that it will strictly follow health protocols.

Colle said the executive order issued by Bichara has allowed operations in 30 tourist destination areas in a limited capacity.

Of the 258 registered hotels, only 115 or 45 percent were issued a Certificate of Authority to operate and most of these are located in this city.

Edna Cynthia Berces, assistant regional director of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) in an interview, said Bicol Regional Recovery Program (RRP for Covid-19) would require a total of PHP295 billion in investments spread over three years.

A total of PHP81.50 billion for 2020 is needed to implement the program, PHP155.17 billion in 2021, and PHP58.06 billion in 2022.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in Bicol said around PHP5.4 billion on revenue losses were reported from various enterprises due to the temporary closure when the region was placed under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

DTI regional director Rodrigo Aguilar said the ECQ for the period March 16 to April 30 this year shutdown 61,522 business establishments or 61 percent of the 75,000 registered enterprises in Bicol.

The two months lockdown sent 139,321 workers temporarily out of work while 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. (by Mar Serrano, PNA)