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Gov’t urged: More int’l flights for repatriated OFWS

HRRAC says this will also give Cebu's hospitality industry a needed shot in the arm

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | July 09,2020 - 03:47 PM
Hotel industry urges govnt to mount more international flights for repatriated OFWs

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CEBU CITY, Philippines — In an effort to boost the recovery of the tourism and hotel industry in Cebu, the largest group of hotels and resorts here is encouraging government agencies to have more international flights catering to repatriated Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).

The Hotel Resort Restaurant Association of Cebu (HRRAC), in an official statement released on Thursday, July 9, called the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force (RIATF), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA), GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation (GMCAC), and the Department of Tourism (DOT) made the call to allow more international flights for repatriated OFWs in Cebu.

HRRAC said billeting returning OFWs in accredited hotels could help revive the hotel industry in Cebu which had bore the brunt of the pandemic’s economic impact.

 

“The HRRAC… is urging the RIATF, the OWWA, MCIAA, GMR-Megawide, and the Department of Tourism that more international flights be made available to Cebu for thousands of repatriated OFWs and for these OFWs upon arriving shall only be billeted or allowed to stay in DOT and DOH accredited hotels under very strict health protocols,” read portions of the two-page statement.

“By doing so, it will give the hospitality industry in Cebu that much needed shot in the arm by providing jobs and opportunities. Not only that, (but) HRRAC has (also) implemented strict health protocols which may not be provided by non-accredited hotels and similar establishments,” it added.

HRRAC is composed of around 100 hotels and resorts establishments in Cebu.

Time to come to terms

HRRAC’s statement was also made calling for the public and private sectors to move forward from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic by creating a balance between economic and health care concerns.

According to the group, now is the ‘time to come to terms that the war against COVID-19 is long and vicious’.

“Our government must implement a new tact on how it will be responding to this viral threat in the future. We cannot be on lockdown and quarantine for a long time. Balance has to be made,” they said.

“Although a lot of our countrymen have died as a result of this pandemic, we should shift our attention to our fellow men who are living and left behind. We can only do so by moving forward,” they added.

In earlier interviews, HRRAC disclosed that only around 57 percent of their members remained both fully and partially operational.

The tourism industry, where hotels and resorts belonged, have been severely impacted by lockdowns due to the spread of COVID-19.

But while countries and provinces here in the Philippines closed borders during the pandemic, the national government has decided to repatriate tens of thousands of OFWs who lost their jobs abroad.

Repatriated OFWs arriving in Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA), the country’s second busiest airport, will be subjected to mandatory COVID-19 testing before proceeding to their respective hometowns.

Tests for returning OFWs and seafarers will be shouldered by the government, as well as their stay in accredited hotels wherein they will be sheltered until test results have been released to them. /dbs

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