In an outdoor meeting, Mayor Ramil del Rosario discusses with barangay chairs and police stricter health protocols. Photo by Ernie Esconde
BAGAC, Bataan — Restrictions on travel imposed in the National Capital Region will greatly affect the tourism industry like beach resorts adjacent to the West Philippines Sea here, resort owners and local officials said Monday.
As a response to the spike in coronavirus disease cases in Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal, non-essential travel in and out of the areas was restricted.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque described it as “travel bubble” where residents will only be allowed to travel within the said areas.
Armando Fajardo, owner of Fajardo’s Beach Resort, recalled that it was also March last year that the same thing happened to them when their bookings were filled and they had begun renovating cottages but Covid- 19 struck and all their bookings were cancelled and renovation expenses remained as expenses.
He said that after months of closure, they were given a permit to operate again in January this year but it was only this March, the beginning of summer, that they are hoping to earn.
“Kumikita na sana dahil medyo nagluwag, at ang hinihingi na lang maging sa labas ng Bataan ay medical certificate. Basta may medical certificate ay pwede na pumasok ng resort kaya medyo dumadami na sana ang reservation, pero eto na naman pumutok na naman at naghigpit kaya nagsipag-cancel na naman ang mga nag–reserve,” Fajardo said.
He said that there were some bookings but three to four groups from Metro Manila have already cancelled their reservation for the Holy Week.
“Hindi namin hiningan ng deposit kaya lang nakakadismaya dahil talagang hirap na hirap. Akala namin makakabawi na kami ng summer na ito kasi huminto kami noong nakaraang taon ganitong-ganito, summer ng March, pero heto na naman,” the resort owner lamented.
Fajardo said they are affected by the travel restriction in Metro Manila, Bulacan and other areas where most of their visitors come from and the new swab requirement. “Dati medical certificate lang ay pwede na magreserve pero ngayon swab test na,” he said.
He said that many beach resorts, especially the small ones, may close because of this new development.
Bagac municipal administrator Nick Ancheta said the source of income of the municipality is dependent more on tourism. He said that in the past summer season from February to May, about 400,000 visitors came. “Pero ngayon baka wala pa sa 10,000.”
“Totally paralyzed talaga kaya malaki ang posibilidad na ang mga resort ay pansamantala munang magsara dahil ang kanilang kikitain ay kulang pa sa ipapasahod sa mga personnel. Kapag nangyari na naman yan ay unemployed na naman ang mga tao at lumalaki ang problema, hindi lumiliit,” Ancheta said.
He could not quantify the amount of losses in their tourism industry but said it was big.
He said that under the new guidelines, a visitor not registered in Bataan has to present negative RT-PCR that costs from P2,000 to P3,000.
“Kung hindi lang talagang mayaman ay baka hindi na pupunta dito,” Ancheta said.
Ancheta and Mayor Ramil del Rosario met with police, rural health personnel, barangay chairmen and members of the sangguniang bayan to discuss the new inter-agency task force guidelines.
The mayor said the best way to fight the virus is to be strict in the implementation of safety protocols and be ready because the town is visited by tourists mostly from Metro Manila and nearby areas where there is a surge of Covid–19 cases.
“Malaking epekto ito sa mga resorts namin dahil negative RT-PCR ang aming nire–require. Hindi ko alam kung makakayanan sapagkat iyan ay very expensive,” Del Rosario said.
According to the mayor, Gov. Albert Garcia does not want Bataan to be like Metro Manila and he wanted them to be ready to fight the virus.
“Maraming bookings na na-cancel at naapektuhan pero naiintindihan naman ng mga beach owners na mas importante ang kaligtasan ng lahat,” the mayor noted.
He said that of the eight accredited resorts of the Department of Tourism, only the big ones may comply with the requirements but the smaller ones may not and may be forced to close.
Among the big beach resorts in Bagac are Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, Montemar, and La Joya.
“Para sa kaligtasan ng lahat at ng bayan ng Bagac at kaligtasan na din ninyo ay sumunod tayo kung ano ang protocol na ipinatutupad sa lalawigan ng Bataan katulad ng kung kayo ay darayo sa amin para makita ang magagandang lugar ay magnegative RT-PCR kayo,” Del Rosario reminded visitors.
“Sa mga beach resorts naman ay talagang ganoon, eh nandiyan ang problema. Ang tagal na nating nilalabanan ito, isang taon na mahigit pero ganoon pa man maswerte nga ang bayan ng Bagac dahil hindi naman kami tumigil sa pagbabantay, sa paghihigpit,” the mayor said.
Del Rosario said that not only Bagac residents have suffered but the country and the world as well, adding: “Naramdaman naman ng bawat isa ito kahit ang munisipyo nag-suffer din. Malaki ang nawala sa munisipyo. Iilan-ilan lang ang nagbabayad ng tax na hindi naman masisisi dahil wala namang silang pagkukunan.”
Del Rosario directed the police and the barangay chairmen to be strict in the implementation of safety protocols.