Tourist arrivals down by 40%

Topic |  

Tourist arrivals down by 40%

Topic |  

NOTE: This story was first published in The Bohol Chronicle’s Sunday print edition.

Barely two weeks after the Coronavirus scare surfaced, tourist arrivals in the province has greatly reduced to a large percentage affecting much the revenues among all tourist-related business operations here.

Sea travel arrivals at the Tagbilaran City Port as well as in other major ports in the towns registered  a big drop of 50 percent while transport operators at the Bohol Panglao International AIrport  (BPIA) confirmed a 30 percent cancellation of their earlier bookings.

The 40% reduction in arrivals was placed on its average considering that major resorts like Hennan Resort and Be Grand Resort in Panglao recorded some 60 per cent cancellation of room bookings this month of February up to March.


Hennan Resort which also operates three resorts in Boracay suffered the biggest reduction on arrivals since the Chinese market grabs the  biggest share of arrivals,

A check made by the Chronicle at the Loboc River floating restos, Mayor Leon Calipusan himself confirmed noontime dinners reduced by 40%. This is also the same figure at the Chocolate Hills in Carmen town.

The new destination on whale watching in Lila town is the worst hit with a  reduction of 80 per cent.

Lila Mayor Jed Piollo confirmed this figure when asked by the Chronicle yesterday. It was noted that this whale watching attraction has generated volume of Chinese tourists as it was well accepted by major Chinese tour handlers. Before the Coronavirus scare, buses load of Chinese tourists jam the area.

Even pension houses in Tagbilaran City also recorded a huge reduction in bookings. A small time operator of a 25-room city based lodging home even said that from a 90% booking, he is now getting as low as 20% only.

This huge reduction in  tourists arrivals was confirmed by Genny Lastimado, operations manager of OceanJet which is the major sea transport that ferries tourists from Cebu.


Meanwhile Charles Lim, consultant of Cebu Pacific told the Chronicle last Thursday that the airline company has several planes parked at their hanger after they cancelled all trips to China.


For Hong Kong alone, CebuPac has eight daily flights which are among those cancelled.


The introduction of cheaper room rates in resorts and hotels as well as cheaper tour packages are now being studied by owners of resorts as well as travel agencies following this big decline in arrivals.


However,  Chairman Lucas Nunag of the Provincial Tourism Council (PTC) said that it might not yet be the right timing to introduce discounted rates  when NCov is still in the headlines.

“It is too soon to mount a campaign to entice tourists, even in the domestic market, to come to Bohol. People do not like to take the risk, especially with Bohol being one of the places with a confirmed case,”  Nunag stressed.


For his part, suspended Gov. Art Yap raised his advise to acting Gov. Rene Relampagos to urgently coordinate with the tourism stakeholders to immediately come up with attractive tour packages to attract domestic travelers to come and visit Bohol in the coming weeks.

 “The Philippines has more than 7 million tourists annually and Bohol may have close to 2 million visitors annually, but we must not forget that there are more than 100 million local travelers every year.  These are our fellow “kababayans” traveling with their families, office mates, barkadas, or attending incentives and seminar workshops all over the country. We must compete with other provinces in attracting more local and foreign visitors to come to Bohol right away.” Yap declares.

Yap shares that in private text messages sent to him by resort and hotel operators, Yap was warned that with the rate of cancellations, resorts and hotels will have to cut back on a number of employees thereby affecting hundreds of working families in Bohol.

For this reason and the possible worsening situation in the coming weeks, Yap has asked the PGBh to be pro-active in finding ways to plug the worsening leak of tourist non-arrivals and replacing them with local travelers.

“We cannot just sit and do nothing.  In April, I have asked that a familiarization tour of Japanese tour operators come to Bohol to acquaint themselves with the product, while we continue working on opening up direct charter flights between Panglao International Airport and Narita International Airport. But from now till then, we cannot just do nothing. We must come up with a package and on our own roadshow and sell our tour packages directly on the internet and by bringing our sales efforts directly to our domestic Filipino travelers.” Yap stressed

“Things will still be worse before they become better.” “What is important is we are doing something to address the tourist cancellations and we are willing to go direct to the market to sell these packages.

Most of all, we must step up our Anti-Corona Virus campaign and be strict in monitoring all Bohol visitors and recent arrivals, while making sure our medical facilities and personnel are ready to face and meet the challenge of the Novel Corona Virus Outbreak.

Meanwhile, former Gov. Edgar Chatto recalled of a similar drop in tourist arrivals and economic growth after the devastating 2013 earthquake.

But, Bohol bounced back, he said.

A lawyer and economist who had chaired the tourism committee of the House of Representatives years back, Chatto said tourism is a very resilient industry.

Tourism employs 10% of the global workforce and contributes 10% of the global production.

      Its role in providing jobs and livelihood greatly impacts on reducing poverty levels among local communities.

Chatto said aside from travel and tourism, the export sector is also expected to be affected by the temporary closure of factories in China and disruption in global supply chain.

He hoped all these challenges will not create a significant reduction in domestic growth projection.

Recently, Bohol registered an average growth rate of 9.1%, higher than the national average.

Rep.Chatto urged all LGUs and local communities to fully support the DOH-WHO advisories to promote safety and protection from the novel coronavirus. (with reports from Augustus Escobia and Ven rebo Arigo)

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