Without tourism, this area of the Philippines is in “economic shambles,” as my spouse recently stated. So many people had their incomes tied to the industry. Now, they have zero income. Zero. No unemployment checks. No stimulus funds. We’ve often written about the growing desperation here.
Now, there is a new effort to get back wealthier tourists who are more likely to stay at higher-end hotels and resorts.
The effort is called September Online Sale, or SOS. It’s by the Hotel Sales & Marketing Association.
SOS tourism deals in the Philippines
The idea is that if you buy an ‘E-voucher’ now, you will commit to travel in the coming year. See all the deals at this link.
Locals tell me there are some bookings as of October 1, when Boracay officially reopens to international and domestic travelers. But it’s nowhere near pre-pandemic levels. (Regional tourism started earlier this summer.)
Obviously, this is not the type slow travel we Earth Vagabonds prefer. But if you are someone who has been locked down at ‘home’ and you want a vacation, or you ant a travel launch point, these SOS tourism deals might entice you.
The people in charge of the program hope the SOS tourism deals will be enough to position the Philippine tourism and hospitality sectors in a “fairly” better place by mid-2021.
Other people are not as optimistic.
A major official in the Philippine tourism industry has said what no one else has said yet: it will take years before tourism returns to “normal.”
Specifically, he cited 2024 as a possible year for the industry to approach what it had been prior to the pandemic.
It’s a tough pill to swallow for anyone whose income is connected to tourism — especially in our area: Malay Municipality in Aklan Province on Panay Island.
The famous nearby smaller island of Boracay is the country’s top tourist spot. We live across the channel from Boracay, and even over here on the mainland — people had depended on tourism to live.
Now, it’s all in “economic shambles”, as Theo likes to say.
We continue to help people as we can. We wish we could help everyone. But, we cannot.
The coming resource war with China
The situation with China and its claims to territory in the South China Sea — particularly close to the Philippines — continues to rankle international relations. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, start with this former post).
In the latest episode, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom filed a joint diplomatic note with the United Nations in New York against China’s sweeping claims.
China has billions of people to feed. It’s really that simple. So it has built up “military islands” in the South China Sea, intimidated American and Filipino pilots, bullied Philippine fishermen – and anyone else who approaches the ‘disputed’ area.
Meanwhile, the U.S. defense secretary said while China has a larger naval fleet, it cannot match American “naval power.” And he said the U.S. must spend more money to maintain its edge, with funding for more ship building, and an overall increased naval force.
Some of the future naval investments will be unmanned, he said. They will deliver “lethal fires” and lay mines, resupply forces or keep an eye on the ‘enemy’.
Officially, the Philippine president has allowed China to do what it wants, and has said his poor island nation is no match for the wealthy communist giant.
We’ve recently had some internet outages, but we’re mostly back online.
Our WiFi signal is weak in the apartment, so we supplement as needed with a hotspot from my phone on data I buy on local SIM card. Mom Diane is able to talk to family members on the phone, Tedly is able to download his email in the bedroom (which is further from the router in the main resort area), I’m able to do blog posts like these.
That said, we still may experience future outages — even on my data card. Globe, the company I use, is upgrading its systems to accommodate higher data demand. For example, the kids here will do remote learning from home this school year.
That’s the latest from our pandemic paradise in the Philippines. Our next post likely will be about some developments that are slowly happening in the sustainability projects for the Ati – a marginalized indigenous tribe we are helping in these crazy times.