CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 5 Oct) – The quarantine measures imposed because of COVID-19 have almost crippled the hotel industry in this city, according to the Cagayan de Oro Hotel and Restaurant Association (COHARA).
COHARA, in a letter to the regional Inter-Agency Task Force last September 24, said many of the hotels here would have to stop operations or close shop if quarantine conditions would continue to be implemented in the city.
“May we request some reconsiderations be amended in order to aid the survival and recovery of our industry,” COHARA president Eduardo Pelaez said in the letter.
He said local hotels have suffered economic losses not only for the two months that the Enhanced Community Quarantine was implemented in the city recently but ever since the pandemic started in March 2020.
Hotel manager Ami Saniel said that hotel owners have borne the brunt of paying their employees “even though we were closed most of the time.”
In her case, Saniel said her staff of 100 is now down to only five because her hotel and its restaurant are mostly closed.
She said the hotel and her remaining employees adopted a flexible arrangement taking turns who will work.
“No owner can survive [this long] without business income. That is what is happening to all hotels in Cagayan de Oro,” Saniel said.
COHARA proposed that their hotels accept guests regardless of age who already have their first dose of vaccine.
Pelaez said that way, local hotels can survive the economic fallout.
To ensure health protocols, Pelaez said hotels and restaurants would have to be allowed to operate only 50 percent of their customer capacities.
The Department of Interior and Local Government has favorably endorsed COHARA’s proposal to the regional IATF.
May Salvaña-Unchuan, Region 10 director of the Department of Tourism, said they are meeting with the hoteliers this week so they can find ways to ease their economic burden.
“We understand their position. They have suffered long enough,” Unchuan said.
She said one of the problems they have identified is the different implementations of the IATF quarantine procedures by local governments.
“Some LGUs go easy with their hotels while others are very strict,” she noted.
Cagayan de Oro, she pointed out, is one of the strictest implementer of quarantine measures after the city was wracked with triple digit infections in the past two months.
Unchuan said they have given “ayuda” (aid) to the hotel employees but they understand that this is not enough.
The National Economic Development Authority in Region 10 said that as of July 15, 2021, some 6,534 workers in the hotel industry in Northern Mindanao have been affected by lay-offs and flexible work arrangements. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)