Once a multi-million industry, whale-shark watching in Oslob took a nosedive in 2021
CEBU CITY, Philippines – Income from the tourism sector in Oslob, southern Cebu went into a nosedive in 2021 as the COVID-19 pandemic dragged on.
Based on the 2021 Annual Audit Report of the Commission on Audit (COA), the local government of Oslob only earned a total of P3.4 million from tourism activities in the previous year.
It was a far cry from the P38.3 million they posted in 2020 when the pandemic began, and the P190.2 million in 2019, a year before COVID-19 lockdowns were placed.
Once a multi-million peso industry, the whale shark watching activities in the town only gained P2,798,210 in 2021, according to COA’s findings. In terms of tourism-driven income, whale shark watching activities in Oslob remain the largest contributor.
The municipal government also gets revenues from other famous tourist destinations such as Sumilon Island and Luka/Tumalog Falls.
Oslob, a fourth-class municipality located approximately 118 kilometers south of Cebu City, gained worldwide prominence for hosting whale shark watching activities.
Before the pandemic, hundreds of tourists would flock to the coastal village of Tan-awan to get a close-up look of the friendly giants, called butandings in Cebuano.
However, it became a subject of debate between tourism operators and conservationists, with the latter pointing out that the enterprise can be harmful to whale sharks, an endangered species, since hand-feeding them might disrupt their migratory patterns.
Whale sharks, the world’s largest fish, migrate to waters in other countries in search of food.
In 2019, COA discovered that the local government of Oslob earned close to P200 million in income from whale shark watching.
Last February, as the Philippines reopened its borders to foreign tourists, locals in Oslob expressed hope and optimism on the revival of their tourism scene, including whale shark watching.
Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of Cebudailynews. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.