By: SARWELL Q. MENIANO
TACLOBAN CITY – Eastern Visayas will loss more than P1 billion this year from tourists receipt due to supertyphoon Yolanda’s devastation that affected the region’s emerging tourism industry.
But the Department of Tourism (DOT) quickly said the sector in
storm-stricken areas is “not dead” after the storm as the region
gained popularity from post disaster international media reports.
“Although the region will lose a lot due to typhoon impact, this will open new opportunities for us especially that many foreigners are now familiar of Tacloban, Leyte and Samar,” said Tourism Regional Director Karina Rosa Tiopes.
Tourists receipt in storm-ravaged areas was pegged at P1.23 billion during the first six months of the year. The figure is almost the same level of P1.46 billion and P1.56 billion gained during the entire year of 2012 and 2011, respectively.
“The estimated income loss is based on the actual tourist receipt in the past three years in Tacloban City, Leyte, Baybay City, Ormoc City, Eastern Samar, Biliran, Basey and Marabut in Samar,” Tiopes told Leyte Samar Daily Express.
As of end of December, only 18 hotels are back to business. At least 68 hotels are non-operational and 64 have partially opened.
One of the hotels that completely shut down after storm Yolanda is The Oriental Leyte located in a beachfront property in Palo town. Tsunami-like storm surge has damaged all the 110 hotel rooms.
Tiopes said the presence of international humanitarian groups is a plus factor to the region’s tourism industry. “They are not just here to bring aids, but like tourists, they also spend money.”
The 60 contingents of Samaritan Purse exclusively occupy the
newly-built Hotel Lorenza along the city’s Imelda Avenue. They also provided generator set and offered to shoulder fuel consumption.
Hotel Alejandro, located on the city’s Paterno Street, which was badly damaged by storm surge, was repaired by the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) for their office and accommodation space.
Oxfam, an anti-poverty confederation of 17 international organizations, now occupies the Leyte Park Hotel situated on the city’s Magsaysay Boulevard.
Kenneth Uy, owner of Asia Star’s Hotel located in city’s downtown, said they have been losing contact with regular guests after the storm. However, the facility still maintains the same occupancy rate with 25 of the 45 rooms occupied daily.
“We lost our preferred clients since our online booking does not work, but we got new guests. Those who have no plans to come like relatives and friends of typhoon survivors, have been coming,” Uy added.
Minerva Rodriguez, manager of Luxury Suite situated on Burgos St. said the presence of international humanitarian organizations have forced them to reopen amid wreckage and absence of power supply few weeks after the disaster.
“Different organizations convinced us to reopen. They also provided a generator set and repair some of our damaged rooms,” Rodriguez said.
Luxury Suite, which is now exclusively used by United Nations
Children’s Fund (Unicef) was previously occupied by representatives of United UN OCHA, International Organization for Migration, Japan International for Cooperation Agency and World Health Organization.
The tourism department is largely counting on stories of recovery to promote the region from being devastated to a rising area.
“Our promotion will continue but we will repackage our message. We want to highlight stories of recovery,” Tiopes added.