Tourist arrivals are expected to “definitely increase” as the province’s peak season draws near and amid the relaxing of movement restrictions imposed in the province due to the persisting pandemic that has crippled the island’s tourism industry, a provincial official said Friday.
According to Provincial Administrator Kathyrin Pioquinto, Bohol saw a surge in tourist influx from February 20 to 25 with 522 arrivals and the figure is seen to further rise.
“Pagtan-aw nako mas motaas pa g’yud ng pag-abot diri, unya mag March na then April, Holy Week na and then fiesta na,” said Pioquinto.
On Wednesday, Governor Art Yap signed Executive Order No. 17 which eased entry protocols by requiring only a single negative result from an RT-PCR test taken 72 hours prior to arrival in the province, waiving the previous need for further testing on the person’s fourth day in the island.
Bohol and the Department of Tourism have been pushing for the revival of the slumping tourism industry since late last year with the province opening its doors to visitors for MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibits) activities in mid-November and then eventually to all tourists.
However, as of February 25, 2021 only 2,856 tourists arrived in Bohol since the reopening.
The figure pales in comparison to the pre-pandemic tourist arrival count which was at 1.5 million in 2019 or an average of 125,000 a month.
Meanwhile, locals have kept establishments in the hospitality industry afloat as they accounted for “19 out of 20” or 95 percent of accommodations made amid the pandemic.
Pioquinto, based on reports from industry players, estimated that more than 50,000 bookings were made by local residents during the period.
“Meaning ang mga mo avail g’yud, as reported by PTC (Provincial Tourism Council) and BAHRR (Bohol Association of Hotels, Resorts and Restuarants), ang mga locals, sila g’yud ang mo patronize sa atoang mga tourism establishments. So kanang 2,800 plus e-times 20 na nimo or if you get that, that is only five percent sa tourism clients nato,” she said.
As movement restrictions were eased, the provincial government also directed the Bohol Provincial Police Office to boost its operations in the enforcement of minimum health standards.
The same rules under MGCQ (modified general community quarantine), the least restrictive quarantine level, are also imposed in the acceptance of people in establishments such as restaurants.
Pioquinto said that establishments are still required to only be filled by 50 percent of their actual capacity.
“So og mo violate na sila then we will have to call their attention then sanction them and eventually if found really guily and negligent, penalize them,” she added. (R. Tutas)