Tourism af­fected by Bo­hol clash

Cebu Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - By Vic­tor An­thony V. Silva REPORTER

The tourism in­dus­try i n Cen­tral Visayas is tak­ing a beat­ing as the neg­a­tive ef­fects of the en­counter be­tween gov­ern­ment forces and the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Bo­hol as well as travel ad­vi­sories is­sued by var­i­ous coun­tries last week are fi­nally be­ing felt.

Stake­hold­ers, how­ever, re­main op­ti­mistic that these ef­fects will not be long-last­ing.

Alice Que­blatin, pres­i­dent of the Cebu As­so­ci­a­tion of Tour Op­er­a­tions Spe­cial­ists (Catos), es­ti­mated that the re­gion stands to lose more than P80,000 a day due to the sus­pended tour of­fer­ings in Bo­hol.

“You will get a bet­ter idea of the ‘can­cel­la­tion losses’ from ho­tels and re­sorts where room can­cel­la­tions be­gin,” she told CEBU DAILY NEWS, adding that tours are only a small com­po­nent of in­dus­try rev­enue.

She said reg­u­lar Bo­hol tour pack­age rates range from P5,000 to P8,000 per per­son with an es­ti­mated 100 tourists, both do­mes­tic and for­eign, be­ing catered to ev­ery day.

On peak days, earn­ings may reach P500,000 to P800,000 daily, said Que­blatin.

Proac­tive stance

As a pre­cau­tion, Catos mem­bers stopped of­fer­ing Bo­hol day tours after the fire­fight be­tween the joint po­lice-mil­i­tary forces and the ASG in the town of In­a­banga last April 11.

While In­a­banga is not con­sid­ered a tourism des­ti­na­tion and is far from ar­eas fre­quented by tourists, Que­blatin ear­lier said this was the group’s “proac­tive stance” amid the cir­cum­stances.

“But room can­cel­la­tions into Cebu will mean more than these fig­ures,” she said.

Also last week, var­i­ous coun­tries in­clud­ing the US, United King­dom, Canada, China and South Korea is­sued travel ad­vi­sories warn­ing their cit­i­zens about the dangers of trav­el­ing to Cen­tral Visayas, par­tic­u­larly to Cebu and Bo­hol, due to threats of ter­ror­ism and kid­nap­ping.

Se­cu­rity of­fi­cials, none­the­less, have as­sured the gen­eral public that the re­gion re­mains safe after the ASG’s plans to con­duct kid­nap­ping activities were foiled in the fire­fight that ended up with a death toll of nine, five of whom were mem­bers of the ter­ror­ist group, three mil­i­tary men and a po­lice of­fi­cer.

Can­cel­la­tions

Rona Sato, area com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager of BE Re­sorts, said BE Grand Re­sort in Bo­hol has noted 35 room can­cel­la­tions since last week up to to­day, most of which were by Chi­nese na­tion­als.

There were no can­cel­la­tions for BE Re­sort Mac­tan, she said.

“As per Bo­hol Tourism Of­fice, it’s busi­ness as usual,” she said in a text mes­sage.

Panglao Blue­wa­ter Beach Re­sort on the is­land town of Panglao in Bo­hol also ob­served a 4-per­cent drop in its oc­cu­pancy last week, fol­low­ing the ad­vi­sory from the South Korean gov­ern­ment ask­ing its cit­i­zens not to travel to Bo­hol.

Op­ti­mistic

Eric Mon­santo, Blue­wa­ter Re­sorts mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager, said most of the can­cel­la­tions were by fully in­de­pen­dent Korean trav­el­ers.

“In the over­all pic­ture, we are still op­ti­mistic that this will not make a big dent on tourist ar­rivals in Bo­hol,” he said.

Marib­ago Blue­wa­ter in Mac­tan, on the other hand, con­tin­ues to en­joy high oc­cu­pancy rates, said Mon­santo, as Cebu is not re­ally af­fected by the ad­vi­sories.

“Busi­ness is good right now,” he added.

Oc­cu­pancy rates stand at 88 per­cent and 100 per­cent for Panglao and Marib­ago, re­spec­tively.

Fol­low­ing re­ports of the in­ci­dent in Bo­hol, on­line book­ings from coun­tries such as Korea and Ja­pan dropped for JPark Is­land Re­sort and Wa­ter­park in Lapu-Lapu City.

Its Pres­i­dent and Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Ja­son Uy noted, how­ever, that those ear­lier booked with them did not can­cel their book­ings.

“There were more Ja­panese guests book­ing than Kore­ans when the news broke out,” he said.

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