Lockdown turns Bulacan resorts into ghost towns
GUIGUINTO, Bulacan— Over 300 resorts in Bulacan were virtual ghost towns during the Holy Week after bookings were canceled when the province was placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from March 29 to April 4 along with the National Capital Region (NCR) and Laguna, Cavite and Rizal provinces.
Local resorts were just starting to recover from the first ECQ that covered Luzon in March last year, which cost their industry more than P2 billion in losses, when they were hit by another ECQ, said Ron Cabanjin, owner of Klir Waterpark Resort and president of Bulacan Association of Resort Owners here.
“We thought this year’s Holy Week would help us rebound,” Cabanjin lamented.
Some resorts survived because their facilities housed medical front-liners and construction workers, he said.
According to Cabanjin, many resort owners hoped to see the ECQ downgraded to a more relaxed quarantine so they could operate even at 50-percent capacity. But the ECQ in NCR and the four provinces has been extended to April 11.
Since the onset of the pandemic, about 6,000 resort workers in the province were displaced, said Bulacan provincial tourism officer Eliseo dela Cruz.
Angel Aldaba, owner of the Lawiswis Kawayan Garden Resort & Spa in Calumpit town, said the lockdowns forced them to let go of most of their workers. Many of these workers were rehired when resorts reopened in the last months of 2020, but their jobs were again threatened by the second ECQ and its subsequent extension, she added.
—CARMELA REYES-ESTROPE INQ
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