Travel restrictions take toll on Davao Region’s tourism

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 28 August) – Davao Region’s tourism industry took a beating in the second quarter of this year, only recording 67,159 tourists or 1.2 million visitors less compared to the same period last year, due to travel restrictions meant to curtail the transmission of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), National Economic Development Authority (NEDA)-Davao director Maria Lourdes Lim said.

Speaking during the virtual launch of Davao Regional Development Plan 2017-2022, Lim blamed the tourism sector’s poor performance on the pandemic, which led to lockdowns and initial cancellation of flights at the onset of the outbreak.

She noted that commercial flights to and from Davao City resumed last June 8 but on a limited basis.

She added the closures of tourism-related establishments, including resorts and hotels, and cancellations of major conventions in the city gave the industry a major blow as the government enforced restrictions to control the movement of people to avoid massive transmission of the infection.

A paramotor glider soars along the coast of Dahican Beach in Mati City, Davao Oriental on Saturday, April 22, 2017. Dahican Beach is a top tourist destination in Eastern Mindanao. Mindanews file photo

“The travel restrictions and shutdown of borders contributed to this decline, including the closure of tourism related establishments, and the cancellation of meetings workshops conventions, events activities, among others, beginning March of 2020,” she said.

Davao is preparing to restart its tourism industry to domestic travelers, City Mayor Sara Duterte said in an an interview over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5).

“For local (travelers), yes, within the region but if you are outside of Davao Region, since there is a requirement of a travel authority, this makes our movement difficult. Under MGCQ (modified general community quarantine), leisure establishments are allowed open,” she said.

Under MGCQ, she said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases prohibits the operation of cockpits, beerhouses and kids’ entertainment or playrooms.

City Tourism Office and Operations head Generose Tecson said that hotels with provisional certificate of authority to operate from Department of Tourism are allowed to resume operations.

The city’s ecotourism destination, Eden Nature Park & Resort, has already resumed operations while Davao Crocodile Park is slated to reopen next month, Tecson added.

She said more tourism establishments would reopen gradually.

The local government of Davao required all inbound passengers, who have no negative transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test results issued within 72 hours before departure from the airport of origin, to undergo COVID-19 testing at the Davao International Airport.

The city will shoulder the expense for the tests.

Passengers will be placed in isolation facilities within the airport where they will have to wait for the RT-PCR test results to be issued within 24 hours.

Duterte said the COVID-19 laboratory of DOT-Davao would be placed at the Los Amigos Health Center.

She said that the local government is complying with the requirements to accredit the health center as a Biosafety Level 2 laboratory. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)