AS THE authorities implemented lockdown and imposed international and local travel restrictions due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic in 2020, the tourism revenue in Davao Region was dropped by 93.7 percent.
“Noong tiningnan namin ang kita ng Davao Region bago mag-pandemya noong 2019, ‘yung kita from the tourism sector ay P54.2 billion. Dahil sa pandemya, bumagsak siya sa P3.4 billion. So, ang bagsak niya ay 93.7 percent; ang bagsak sa kita diyan ay sa Region Davao Region alone (When we looked at the revenue of the Davao Region before the pandemic in 2019, the revenue of the tourism sector was P54.2 billion. However, because of the pandemic, the revenue dropped to P3.4 billion, that is – a drop of 93.7 percent in the Davao Region alone),” Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in the One Davao on Covid-19 virtual press conference of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA)-Davao Region.
In 2019, the Philippines had recorded a drop of over eight million foreign tourists. The sector accounts for 12.7 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employs 5.7 million people in direct and indirect jobs, including workers relying on the tourism industry.
DOT-Davao Director Tanya Rabat-Tan also reported a total of 41 accommodation establishments in the region have temporarily suspended their operations due to the pandemic.
Three large hotels in the region have suspended their operations -- Marco Polo Hotel Davao and Grand Regal Hotel in 2020 and Apo View Hotel in 2021.
Marco Polo Davao indefinitely ceased its operations n June 15, 2020 because of the economic fallout from the pandemic. Meanwhile, Grand Regal Hotel Davao announced its temporary closure on March 19, 2020 and remains closed until today.
On March 31, 2021, the 72-year-old Apo View Hotel temporarily ceased operations.
In a statement, the hotel management said it decided to temporarily close its doors until further notice as they “continue to support the nation’s effort to combat the spread of Covid-19.”
"It has been our pleasure to serve you, and we can't wait to open our doors and welcome you all again," they added.
Meanwhile, Puyat said as the government relaxed the lockdown to jumpstart the economy, especially the tourism sector, the department would ensure that health and safety measures are in place.
Puyat said they have been providing assistance to Covid-19-affected tourism-related businesses through the Covid Adjustment Measures Program (Camp) in coordination with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
She also said that the Camp initiative was aimed at helping displaced industry workers affected by the pandemic.
As the tourism sector declined due to the impact of the pandemic, Puyat assured that the 23,786 workers in the sector in the region are entitled to financial assistance worth P118.9 million or one-time financial assistance of P5,000 per beneficiary.
She added that the beneficiaries of the assistance include those working at accommodation establishments, travel and tours, massage therapists, tricycle operators and drivers, and other displaced workers.
The tourism chief added that initiatives and programs have been rolled out to bring back the tourism industry in low-risk areas.
She added that tourism activities are now permitted under the modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) in accordance with the Omnibus Guidelines of the Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
Although she expressed interest in gradually opening tourist sites in areas under MGCQ for the local travelers, Puyat stressed that the decision still lies with the local government units. (Emmanuel Pacis, AdDU Intern)