The Chocolate Hills Complex which used to be teeming with local and foreign tourists arriving in busloads is now a virtual ghost town.
The complex which provides a 360-degree view of the majestic hills has been temporarily shut down by the local government unit of Carmen amid the enforcement of a community quarantine which prohibits travel into the province.
Mayor Ricardo Toribio on Monday signed Executive Order No. 5 which mandates the temporary closure of the site starting Tuesday. The suspension will last until the ban on sea and air travel into the province is lifted.
Toribio, in the order, cited “health” and “economic” reasons for the closure.
A highly placed source who spoke on condition of anonymity said that about 60 employees will be jobless for the duration of the quarantine.
“Ang mga employees wa juy sweldo for the meantime,” the source said.
The LGU meanwhile is coordinating with the Public Employment Service Office in looking for options on how to provide livelihood to those affected by the shutdown.
Closure of the complex not only affects the employees of the establishment itself but also tour operators and tour transport businesses that bring tourists to the site.
Even before the five-day quarantine was implemented on Monday, Governor Arthur Yap had admitted that the tourist transport sector was severely hit by the nationwide tourism slump caused by the global COVID-19 scare.
The governor said then that the tourist transport industry experienced a “60 to 70” percent drop in business transactions.
Tourism is one of the most badly hit industries by the COVID 19 scare and is unlikely to recoup as fast as other sectors, as other nations where the country’s potential visitors are continue to grapple with the spread of the disease and at varying degrees of success.
With the continuing slump in tourist arrivals and activities, the national government allotted P14 billion for tourism, more than half of the entire P27.1-billion package set aside to help contain the spread of the disease and provide economic relief.
According to the Department of Finance, the amount which will be sourced from the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority will be earmarked for various programs and projects of the Department of Tourism (DOT). (AD)