Despite low occupancy rates in hotels and resorts, Governor Gwendolyn Garcia encouraged the tourism industry to look at the brighter side amidst 2019 novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV ARD) scare.
She said the recent decline of foreign guests could mean an opportunity for local hotels and resorts to improve their facilities.
“The occupancy rates are quite low right now. Then it’s time to refurbish your rooms, it’s time to do the much-needed repairs which you cannot do if your rooms are full. So, let’s look at the brighter side in every crisis,” Garcia said in a press conference on Tuesday, February 4.
Garcia expressed this after she signed Executive Order (EO) No. 5 late Monday evening, February 3, 2020, which laid down the guidelines on how to protect Cebu Province and prevent the spread of the virus.
EO No. 5 forms a contingency plan and established protocols for the mandatory 14-day quarantine of all arriving passengers from mainland China and its special administrative regions suspected of having been exposed to the virus, specially home quarantine.
A task force was also created composed of four teams that will focus on surveillance and monitoring, quarantine, information dissemination and education and the treatment.
The order enjoined all the municipal and city mayors within the Province, local health officers and the town police to be on board in the implementation of home quarantine in case a resident in their locality needs it.
The order stated that one of the requirements for home quarantine is the presence of a separate room where the patient will stay for the time that he is under quarantine.
The Hotels, Resorts, and Restaurants Association of Cebu (HRRAC) members are already expecting 20% cancellation of their bookings due to the nCoV scare. Garcia earlier said there is a 30 percent decrease of tourist arrivals in Cebu as the Chinese comprise more than half of Cebu's tourist arrivals.
This as President Rodrigo Duterte ordered a temporary ban on travelers from China, Hong Kong and Macau, except Filipino citizens and permanent resident visa holders.
However, the governor is optimistic that the 2019-nCoV ARD outbreak will not last long as the medical industry continues to do their best in finding the cure.
“I do believe that as the medical world scrambles to find cures and even vaccine for this, eventually this virus will dwindle and wear itself out. And so, we are not really that worried about the tourism part. Let’s all just tighten our belt right now because we have to face this challenge,” she said.
Urging the public to help each other out, Garcia reiterated that the virus is the enemy, and not any particular race.
“They say, it is in times of crisis that one’s true character surfaces. I hope that this is an opportunity for us, Filipinos, to show that we are made of stronger stuff and certainly, better stuff than what small-minded, mean people would wish to project,” she said.
FIRST IN THE COUNTRY
During the second multi-sectoral meeting at the Capitol, PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar commended Garcia for being the first local government official to act on the threat of novel coronavirus.
"I was surprised advance kaayo og thinking sa atong gobernador, unsaon pag sulbad sa problema sa n-Coronavirus. I would like to commend the action of the Governor, this is the first action in the Philippines coming from the provincial level, for such a very timely decision, which will affect how the other provinces, municipalities and cities and other regions will now act."
The 2019-nCoV ARD outbreak first started in Wuhan City, China mid-December 2019 and has now claimed over 400 lives and infected over 20,000 individuals worldwide. (Mylen P. Manto)