AN “isolated case” was how tourism stakeholders described the situation residents of Mactan Island are facing.
Infectious medical wastes from three private hospitals were washed up on the shores of four barangays in Mactan.
Hotels, Resort, and Restaurant Association of Cebu (HRRAC) president Carlo Suarez expressed optimism that the incident will not affect the province’s tourism industry which is currently experiencing robust growth.
According to Suarez, the local government and concerned hospitals are already addressing the issue.
“Our tourism is safe. In fact, our marketing for Mactan remains on a high note. All hotels and resorts are enjoying high occupancy this month,” he said.
Hembler Mendoza, head of Lapu-Lapu City’s Tourism Office, sees the incident not affecting the island’s tourism because the affected area is not a tourism zone. It is not fit for swimming nor fishing, he said.
“The resorts are located on the eastern side. If it was the Hilutungan Channel that was infected, which is sensitive to tourists, then it would negatively affect tourism,” said Mendoza.
The tourism official said they no longer sent advisories to resort properties as the infected area is on the other side of the island. What his office received though are inquiries about the government’s action plan, which Mendoza said, they are already addressing. He said the local government has already demanded from concerned hospitals their explanation of the matter.
Alice Queblatin, president of Cebu Alliance of Tour Operations Specialists, said that what happened to the shores in Mactan by supposedly responsible establishments is inexcusable.
“We should be more concerned with its negative effect on the health of our people, the local community and cleanliness of the environment,” said Queblatin.
When exposed to situations like these, Queblatin said, “tourists express sympathy for us, rather than fear for their own safety.” “They know that extra care is taken by hotels, resorts, tour operators, travel offices and restaurants to make them feel safe and comfortable. But, it is embarrasing to see we don’t think this for ourselves. At the end, this sad fact can diminish the positive image of Cebu as a destination,” said Queblatin.
Mactan Island is one of the province’s tourism drawers known for its resorts and beaches. It is a home to big and international resort brands. In past interviews, Mendoza said they are expecting at least 7,000 rooms by 2020 to 2021.
Health officials in Lapu-Lapu City have advised the public to avoid swimming in the Mactan Channel and foraging for shellfish, as the water may have been contaminated from the infectious medical wastes. However, Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza said it is still safe to swim in the Hilutungan Channel, located on the opposite side of the island. (KOC)