More than 200 tour guides in Western Visayas have been heavily hit by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, according to the Department of Tourism (DOT-6).
Most of the affected workers, who are based in Iloilo, Guimaras and Aklan, rely on their income from tour guiding, said DOT-6 Supervising Tourism Operations Officer Rene T. Cortum.
"Grabe gid ang resulta sang pandemic. Because most of our resorts and tourism destinations are close, wala man sang work ang aton tour guides. Tanan sila affected gid. We are hoping that the DOT Central Office can provide assistance to them," he told IMT NEWS.
Erlyn Alunan, Senior Tourism Operations Officer of San Joaquin, Iloilo, said she was saddened by the negative impact of the pandemic on the local tourism industry.
"We were one of the most visited destinations in the region. Our day visitor record is in fact the highest in the province of Iloilo. During peak season, we would have as many as 10,000 day visitors in our resorts," she said.
"After February of 2020, the tourists dwindled not because they are no longer interested in the attractions here but because of the travel restrictions strictly imposed by the government," Alunan continued.
According to her, they have about 258 displaced tourism workers. They are resort employees, local guides and members of community-based eco-tourism sites.
"A lot of them were retrenched. Only a handful are still employed but only on an on call arrangement. The constant lockdown of the communities due to exponential transmission of COVID-19 virus has greatly affected the business," said Alunan.
"Tourism is no longer economically viable here. Resorts are incurring insurmountable losses brought about by the ever changing policies and directives imposed by the government in its effort to curb COVID-19," she added.
Meanwhile, DOT-6 Regional Director Cristine Mansinares noted 9,232 or 72 percent of the 12,809 active tourism workers in the region have already been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
"Additional doses are expected to arrive within this month for the remaining number of workers. Hopefully, within the month, we can complete the target number of vaccinated workers," she said.IMT