Hotels, resorts urged to lower rates
Lorraine L. Ecarma, Mary Ruth R. Malinao (The Freeman) - February 29, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  Hotels and resorts in the Camotes Islands that will be participating in the Suroy-suroy Sugbo were urged to lower their rates, in response to the decline on domestic tourism brought about by the COVID-19 threat.

In an interview with reporters, Provincial Tourism Head Maria Lester Ybañez said that the organizers of the upcoming Camotes leg of Suroy-suroy Sugbo have urged hotels on the island to lower their rates if they can, so as to attract tourists.

Suroy-suroy Sugbo: Enchanting Camotes is set to take place this April 25 and 26.

"We have to face the fact na kung dili ta mo-adapt sa situation, lugi man ta tanan," she said.

Ybañez said that South Koreans, Chinese and Japanese tourists normally travel in bulk.

Travel ban

With this, she said that the recent travel ban on incoming tourists from China, Macau, Hong Kong and more recently, the North Gyeongsang Province of South Korea, may affect the number of participants for the Camotes Escapade.

Despite this, Ybañez remains confident as reservations for the next leg of Suroy-suroy Sugbo have started filling up since the previous year.

The current number of reservations from last year, Ybañez said, could already fill up two buses.

The organizers are hoping to fill up six buses, however, they are also open to more participants.

"Maybe we could have more, since Camotes is really progressive now. Makita sad nato nga kaya man," Ybañez stated.

To achieve this, she added that the organizers are “cooking something up” for the guests that have not been done in other installations of the tour caravan. She also urged hotels to do the same.

Ybañez also highlighted that in the Camotes leg, participants will now be allowed more time in each of the stops since the caravan will include only four municipalities. About thirty minutes of beach time will be allowed per stop.

Tickets range from P9,000 to P16,000, considering the four boat rides the participants would have to go through: from mainland Cebu to Camotes, from mainland Camotes to one of the islets and back.

The organizers are still finalizing the tour packages.

Invitation

As for the invitation sent to President Rodrigo Duterte, Governor Gwendolyn Garcia said they have not yet received any reply.

Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino had earlier promised to invite the president to take part in the tour caravan in the effort to boost domestic tourism.

In case the president accepts the invitation, Ybañez said they will study and identify which local government units he will be present in, so as to execute the prescribed security measures.

Nevertheless, she said they are optimistic about the possibility of the president’s attendance.

"We're really excited nga he chose Cebu as one of the stops sa atong domestic tourism," she said.

Quick response fund

Meanwhile, Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Wendel Avisado has advised the departments in Region 7 to utilize first the Quick Response Fund (QRF) in addressing the COVID-19 scare.

"Ang policy nato is gamita sa na. Kung gamay na lang, let us know because there has to be a way to augment that," said Avisado.

This, after Bohol Governor Arthur Yap asked him if a stimulus package is possible in Central Visayas due to the COVID-19 threat.

Avisado said the action some would immediately want is a Supplemental Budget, but it is still too early to create such.

"Nganong magsupplemental man? Nagsugod pa gani ang tuig. Asa mana nato kuhaa?" he said.

"Usually pag Supplemental, meron yang savings, meron yang unused budget, unappropriated balance... wala naman tayong pag-uusapan tungkol dyan dahil nag-uumpisa palang ang taon," he added.

Avisado, however, assured that there is a fund for a stimulus package.

"We contribute to that fund, that's why we have the right to claim whenever the worse of COVID-19 is going to happen in our country," said Avisado.

Yap, for his part, said he actually wanted to ask Avisado "what is the national government ready to give."

"The entire country will be hit differently because the country has a manufacturing base and the tourism base. So, the stimulus package for the industrial parts of the country should be different for us here in Central Visayas," said Yap.

"Like for example, Cebu I think is lucky because balance ang Cebu eh. It has industry and tourism but for Bohol, we don't have industrial base to speak of. Everybody knows wala namang planta didto. We only have tourism and OFW remittances to depend on," he added.  GAN (FREEMAN)

SUROY-SUROY SUGBO
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