DIPACULAO, AURORA – Eva Segundo rushed to the resort she was managing on the Barangay Dinadiawan coast on Friday. The reason for their hurry: the unscheduled visit of four guests.
“Since March 2020 no one has come this way [when the Philippines was put on strict quarantine to prevent the spread of the coronavirus infection]. My huts have no tenants, ”Segundo explained to the investigator the next day, explaining how happy she was to see visitors.
“You can pay me any amount because you only cooked and ate lunch here,” she said.
According to Ana Riza Mendoza, director of the provincial tourist office, the 320 hotels, inns, lodges and resorts in Aurora’s eight cities are largely in the same situation.
In 2019, 3,306 people could accommodate 1,490 people in the combined rooms of these facilities, and the event rooms with 66 seats could accommodate 5,445 people and 22 restaurants.
Mendoza said 2020 was off to a good start, with tourist arrivals of 80,085 in January, or a 27 percent increase from the same month last year.
Almost no arrivals
“The data immediately dropped to almost half in February (2020) and to almost zero in the following months. This scenario persisted until the end of the year, when all arrivals are from properties that only accept authorized people outside of residence (apor), ”she said.
Mendoza said Aurora’s tourism sector suffered an estimated loss of 1.089 billion pesetas over the past year as tourism income fell to 84.25 percent and daily spending on overnight guests averaged 2,500 pesetas.
The losses, she said, would have been much greater had it not been for around 60,000 long-time local and foreign guests staying in Aurora during this pandemic and Apors’ presence.
“Our economy is badly affected,” said Governor Gerardo Noveras in an interview on Saturday.
Lone COVID-19 death
The upside is that only one person in the province has died from the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while 99 have recovered, according to local health data.
Agriculture and fishing are helping to flood communities. Along the roadside there are large rice fields full of grain and shops selling fresh catch.
In Segundo’s village, two resorts were in a boom in anticipation of better times.
Far up in the town of Maria Aurora, the strip of “pasalubong” (souvenirs and gifts) shops in Barangay San Joaquin remained open, although sales were not yet brisk. Best sellers include suman (native rice cakes), which use sticky brown rice. INQ
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