Central Visayas tourism losses hit P3.3 billion
CEBU CITY, Cebu, Philippines — Central Visayas has lost P3.3 billion in tourism revenues following the devastation caused by Typhoon Odette (international name: Rai) in the region in December last year, latest data collected by the Department of Tourism (DOT) showed.
The figure, according to the DOT, translates to about 500 damaged enterprises that displaced 2,367 workers.
In Cebu province alone, the tourism industry lost about P2.5 billion to Odette, the strongest typhoon that hit the country in 2021. Bohol province reported P433 million in losses, while Negros Oriental recorded P428 million. Damage in Siquijor is still being assessed.
The damage left by the typhoon, along with the continuing health crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, had resulted in about P5.64-billion losses in the region due to lower tourist arrivals in 2021.
Over two months since Odette wreaked havoc in Central Visayas, many resorts and tourist destinations remain closed while these are undergoing rehabilitation.
In Lapu-Lapu City, where many popular resorts in Cebu are located, about 20 percent of establishments still do not accept guests.
According to John Rafols, Lapu-Lapu City tourism officer, some resorts do not have electricity supply yet while others are undergoing renovation after being devastated by Odette on Dec. 16, 2021.
Top resorts Shangri-la Mactan Cebu and Crimson Resort and Spa are expecting to resume regular operations by April.
Cebu City Councilor Joy Pesquera, who leads the Cebu City Tourism Commission, said 50 percent of the city’s tourism sites and other tourism-related businesses also remained closed due to damage from Odette.
Local officials, Pesquera said, are expecting the full recovery of tourism-related establishments as soon as the city government lines up monthly activities to attract visitors amid the pandemic.
On Feb. 18, representatives from tourism-related businesses and establishments and industry players around the country gathered in Cebu City for the International Travel Fair, the first major in-person event hosted by the city two years after the pandemic began in March 2020.
Among the participants were private tour operators and representatives of local and international airlines and top resorts from different regions.
While many tourist destinations were still reeling from the effects of the typhoon, Shalimar Tamano, DOT Central Visayas director, said the region was prepared to accept local and foreign tourists.
He said the Mactan-Cebu International Airport is ready for more international flights, noting that Turkish Airlines’ Istanbul-Cebu flight began on Jan. 25.
Tamano said Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia and the DOT recently met with officials of the embassies of South Korea, Japan, and China.
“These are the biggest markets for Cebu and Central Visayas. They have assured us that there will be more visitors coming,” he said.
The diplomats suggested removing the “corridor” or “bubble” tourism scheme, or an arrangement where a destination like Cebu will accept visitors only from a specific area.
“If we open up, we open up to everyone,” Tamano said, quoting the foreign officials.
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