In Aurora, tourism losses reach P 1B
DIPACULAO, AURORA—Eva Segundo rushed to the resort she was managing along the coast of Barangay Dinadiawan on Friday. The reason for her haste: the unscheduled visit of four guests.
“Nobody has come this way since March 2020 [when the Philippines was put on strict quarantine to prevent the spread of the coronavirus infection]. My huts have no renters,” Segundo told the Inquirer the next day, explaining her delight from seeing visitors.
“You can pay me any amount because you only cooked and had your lunch here,” she said.
The 320 hotels, inns, lodges and resorts in Aurora’s eight towns are mostly in the same situation, according to Ana Riza Mendoza, head of the provincial tourism office.
In 2019, these establishments’ combined rooms of 3,306 could accommodate 1,490 people, function halls of 66 could serve 5,445 people, and 22 restaurants.
Mendoza said it was a good start in 2020, with tourist arrivals reaching 80,085 in January, or a 27-percent increase from the figure for the same month in 2019.
Almost zero arrivals
“The data immediately dropped to almost half in February (2020) and fell to almost zero in the succeeding months. This scenario remained until the end of the year where arrivals are all based from accommodation facilities accepting authorized persons outside of residence (Apor) only,” she said.
With tourism receipts dropping to 84.25 percent and at P2,500 average in daily expenditures for overnight guests, Mendoza said Aurora’s tourism sector incurred estimated losses of P1.089 billion last year.
The losses, she said, would have been much bigger had it not been for about 60,000 long-staying local and foreign guests who opted to stay in Aurora during this pandemic and the presence of Apors.
“Our economy is affected very much,” said Gov. Gerardo Noveras in an interview on Saturday.
Lone COVID-19 fatality
The upside is that only one person has died of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the province while 99 have recovered, according to local health data.
Farming and fishing are helping tide over the communities, with large tracts of rice lands by the roadside brimming with grains and stores selling fresh catch.
In Segundo’s village, two resorts were in a construction frenzy in anticipation of better times.
Far up in Maria Aurora town, the strip of “pasalubong” (souvenirs and gifts) stores in Barangay San Joaquin remained opened although sales were not brisk yet. Among the bestsellers are “suman” (native rice cakes) that use glutinous brown rice. INQ
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