Employment lay off possible as tourism industry in Cebu suffers due to coronavirus scare

By: Rosalie O. Abatayo - Reporter/CDN Digital | February 12,2020 - 11:52 AM



Foreign tourists enjoy the beach in one of the resorts in Moalboal town, southern Cebu.
| CDN file photo

CEBU CITY, Philippines — The pain brought by the Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) to Cebu’s tourism industry may take a toll on employees in the industry.

Bai Hotel Vice President for Operations Alfred Reyes, who sits in the Board of the Hotel, Resort, Restaurants Association of Cebu (HRRAC), Inc., said laying off of employees is not a remote possibility if the local and international tourism industry continue to drop.

“It’s not only China because if you’ve noticed right now, people don’t want to travel. Even local tourists, ” Reyes told CDN Digital in an interview. “Domestic and international tourists have dropped,”

With the occupancy rate of the hotels dropping to as low as 30 percent, Reyes said businesses barely get breakeven with their operational costs.

“So much. You don’t do breakeven for an occupancy of less than 50 (percent). If hotels are already running at less than 50 [percent occupancy], then you basically, either start reducing your manpower or you start reducing your operating costs,” Reyes said.

Hotels in Cebu, Reyes said, have already placed marketing gimmicks and special promotions and lowered their rates to invite guests.

Travel and tours have also been gravely affected by the health emergency. China, where the viral respiratory disease originated, first imposed a ban on group tours in efforts to contain the virus.

Money out of the window

The Philippine government also imposed a travel ban to and from China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan amid the Covid-19 threat.

Cathay Pacific, according to a report from the Associated Press, has already asked 27,000 employees to go on three weeks of unpaid leave in the coming months “as Hong Kong’s flagship carrier reels from the impact of the deadly coronavirus on air travel.”

“With the occupancy that is down, there is really nothing that we can do. Even do you spend so much in marketing, it doesn’t help because the mindset of the people is still coronavirus. So, if you spend so much in marketing today, you are just throwing money out of the window,” Reyes said.

Reyes said there is nobody who can tell until when can the industry can hold up with the effects of the COVID-19 scare.

“It is because you cannot promise, not even DOH (Department of Health) or WHO (World Health Organization can promise when it will stabilize,”Reyes said.

While property owners may use the low occupancy as a time to renovate and improve their facilities as Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia suggested, Reyes said not all businesses are financially able to continue with the training courses for their employees or the renovation of their facilities with no revenue flowing into their coffers. /bmjo

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TAGS: Corona Virus Disease, coronavirus, COVID-19, COVID-19 disease, HRRAC, travel and tourism

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