CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 1 Aug) – The “City of Golden Friendship” is now feeling the crunch as three companies have cancelled plans to hold conferences here in the wake of the July 26 bombing at the LimKetKai Rosario Arcade that killed eight persons and injured 48 others.
Anxious officials from the Department of Tourism in Region 10 are closely monitoring whether more groups or corporations are cancelling plans to hold their conferences or conventions in the coming days.
August is the fiesta month of Cagayan de Oro in honor of St. Augustine’s feast day on August 28. A number of activities have been lined up for the entire month.
Tourism officials feared that the slow police investigation on the bombing incident will cause more cancellations. At least one restaurant, the Binalot Fiesta Foods, has already postponed the opening of its branch at the LimKetKai Rosario Arcade last Monday.
DOT 10 officer Ma. Elena Manalo said they learned that drug company Zuellig Pharma, soap/detergent and cosmetics manufacturer Pilipinas Kao and the cement firm La Farge have already cancelled their reservations to hold conferences and conventions at Mallberry Business Suites Hotel at the LimKetKai compound.
Manalo said the three events would have brought some 370 participants to Cagayan de Oro.
“We are calling other hotels and asking whether other groups have cancelled their reservations,” Manalo said.
Manalo said many of the 300 doctors who attended the national midyear convention of the Philippine College of Chest Physicians last week were booked at Mallberry.
She said the doctors left the hotel in a hurry following the bomb explosion that killed two of their colleagues and six medical representatives.
“Many cancelled their tours for whitewater rafting in Cagayan de Oro and Dahilayan, Bukidnon. They packed their bags right after the bombing and left,” Manalo said.
Mark Quililan, manager in one of the upscale restaurants at LimKetKai, said their restaurant suffered a “60 to 70 percent” drop after the bombing incident. “I only had one table of four customers last Monday. This week is really bad for business,” he said.
Taxi drivers are also feeling the crunch this week as residents preferred to stay in their houses rather than go out.
“In order for me to have P1,000 to pay my daily taxi rate, I have to drive for more than a day and a half to earn it. Before the bombing incident, I can earn P1,000 in just six hours of plying the streets,” cab driver Dario Angkod said.
Eileen San Juan, tourism consultant for the local government of Cagayan de Oro, said it is imperative for the city government to hold successfully all fiesta events so the residents can move on.
“Our city tourism program is at stake here. If we fail, it is like terrorism have won. We cannot afford to lose,” she said.
One bright development, San Juan said, is that tourism leaders nationwide decided to go ahead with the holding of the Mindanao forum of the Philippine Tourism Congress in September.