Odette-hit Central Visayas tourism initially logs P3.4B in damage

MORE than a month after Typhoon Odette (Rai) battered some areas of the Visayas and Mindanao, partial reports collated by the Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 showed estimated tourism damage of P3.4 billion in Central Visayas.

This figure could go higher as some estimates of damage for other establishments and areas have not been completed such as in Negros, Tagbilaran and Panglao for Bohol and Siquijor.

Partial data as of January 14, 2022 showed that the typhoon’s damage to tourism reached P3,377,244,257. Of the figure, Cebu’s assessment of damage initially reached P2,515,322,381 while Bohol’s (partial) stood at P433,239,250.

Meanwhile, the January 19 data of Negros Oriental (partial) revealed estimated damage reaching P428,682,626. Siquijor’s damage assessment is still ongoing.

The DOT’s data also revealed that there were at least 500 enterprises and 2,367 workers affected by the typhoon as of January 13.

Cebu’s damage

Cebu’s P2.5 billion in damage was due to the bigger properties that were destroyed by the typhoon, primarily the accommodation establishments at P2.47 billion, mostly located in Lapu-Lapu City.

Damage in English and Second Language facilities were initially pegged at P45,000; meeting, incentives, conventions and exhibitions venues (P500,000); dive operations (P18.3 million); restaurants (P8.9 million); tourist transport (P4.8 million); tourist sites (P9.9 million); and travel agencies (P65,000).

By area, estimated damage in Lapu-Lapu City was pegged at P1.97 billion, followed by Mandaue City (P259 million), Cebu City (P130 million), Consolacion (P23 million) and Catmon (P21 million).

The tourism industry, which falls under the services sector, accounts for 60 percent of the region’s economy.

Prior to Typhoon Odette, the sector had already been reeling from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic that has shut the international borders, endangering tourism-reliant industries and livelihoods.

According to National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) assistant regional director Dolores Molintas, the figures showed by the DOT 7 will be of help in the rehabilitation and recovery plan of Central Visayas which Neda 7 and other concerned agencies are currently drafting.

The region’s rehabilitation and recovery plan will be submitted to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council by the end of this month.

Loans, reopening to foreign travelers

Meanwhile, during the Central Visayas’ tourism recovery consultation on Friday, January 21, 2022, tourism stakeholders lobbied for the reopening of the international borders so that the tourism sector could finally bounce back from the impact of the pandemic and typhoon.

Federico Carmona of Amun Ini dive resort in Anda, Bohol said while they appreciate the interventions of the local government units and financial institutions in extending their credit facilities to help in the rehabilitation of the sector, the tourism establishments may have difficulty paying their loans due to the absence of the foreign market.

“The private sector is resilient as long as it has the market, but without them (foreign market) the industry will not survive,” he said.

DOT 7 Director Shahlimar Tamano explained that because of Typhoon Odette and the Omicron variant threat, the travel bubble program of Cebu Province was set aside.

But he is confident that the travel bubble talks will soon resume, knowing that opening Cebu and the region to the international market will greatly help in resuscitating the ailing tourism sector.

“We should set an opening date for Cebu and Central Visayas,” he said.

In November last year, the Cebu Province had started looking into creating travel bubbles or safe corridors with Korea, China and Japan, which are Cebu’s top tourist source markets, in a bid to restart and create tourism activities in the province.

Travel bubbles refer to the arrangements between countries for travelers to enter each other’s borders without the need for strict quarantines or at least very minimal periods of quarantine