Photo courtesy of Red Bull.

EL NIDO, Palawan — This tourist town has placed its opportunity losses due to COVID-19 at P913.1 million for the tourism peak months of March to May.

Tourism Operations Officer I Arvin Acosta says the estimate was based on their projected income during the period that was supposed to be the peak of local tourist season before the sector ground to a halt.

Acosta said the amount was computed based on 2019 tourism arrivals for the same months, where a tourist spent an average of P8,500 during an entire stay averaging three days.

“Mataas talaga ang losses buhat ng crisis. Noong December 2019 nga, almost P2.5 million na ang lost income dahil sa bagyong Tisoy, cancelled island tour bookings pa lang ito.,” Acosta told Palawan News.

In an earlier interview, Acosta said that starting early January 2020, El Nido had nearly P1.4 million in losses due to canceled bookings following the COVID-19 outbreak.

Other stakeholders not directly related to tourism are also feeling the brunt of zero tourism activity here. According to tricycle driver Jenmar Santos, 30, he earns only 1% of his previous monthly income now that there are no tourists.

“Mahirap na talaga lalo na ngayon at isang pasahero lang ang allowed na sumakay. Ang dating kinikita kong halos P1,500 sa isang araw, ngayon nasa P200 na lang,” Santos said. He and other tricycle operator groups are hoping that some form of assistance will be given to them, since they were required to cease operations for nearly two months.

Lemuel Lingco, 55, a tiangge vendor who travels to sell his wares during fiesta seasons, also laments the loss of income as well as being stranded in El Nido since February. Lingco, who is from Bacolod, is hoping to travel home via boat if the local government will allow it.

“Ngayon at pinayagan na akong magtinda, ang kinikita ko ay halos di abot para sa pang-araw-araw na gastusin. Nasa P200 lang halos ang kinikita ko,” said Lingco. “Sa Liminangcong ako galing bago rito sa El Nido. Ang inipon ko roon, ubos na sa halos dalawang buwang walang kita dahil sa quarantine.”