CALAMBA, Laguna – Owners, operators, caretakers, and tour agents of hot spring resorts in Barangay Pansol are bearing the brunt of the economic impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
For the second consecutive year, they’re not allowed to operate during the dry months – considered to be their peak season – due to community quarantine protocols.
Some workers have put up signages all over the barangay, saying that they’re going hungry and calling for the reopening of resorts.
“Sa totoo lang, ilang buwan nang walang kita and mga owner, agent, mga operator, walang hanap-buhay (The truth is, owners, agents, and operators haven’t been earning for months now),” tour agent Delvin Gutierrez told the Manila Bulletin on Tuesday (May 18).
“Ang mga tao po dito sa Pansol, halos resort and ikinabubuhay… Ngayong walang turista, ipon lang ang ikabubuhay mo. Paano kung ubos na? (Most people here in Pansol rely on resorts for their livelihood… Now that there aren’t any tourist, they rely on savings. What happens when it runs out?)”
Due to lack of income, some tour agents have turned to construction work to put food on the table.
The Local Government Unit’s Appeal
According to Calamba Public Order and Safety Office (POSO) Head Jeffrey Rodriguez, there are approximately 1,400 resorts in the city, 90 percent of which are private resorts. Despite the blow to the city’s economy brought by the closure of resorts, the local government unit’s (LGU) hands are tied.
On May 4, Mayor Justin Marc S.B. Chipeco wrote to Department of Tourism (DOT) Region IV-A Director Michael A. Palispis requesting permission for hot spring resorts to operate on a limited capacity following strict health guidelines.
The response from Palispis, dated May 10 and received by the LGU on May 17, said that as much as DOT Region IV-A wants to extend assistance in allowing the operation of hot spring resorts, they have to abide by the COVID-19 Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) guidelines.
Palispis also advised Chipeco to apply for an exemption from the Regional or National IATF for consideration. The LGU is currently doing just that and is hoping for a positive response to their appeal.