By Roberta Salinas, The Associated PressThe Batanes tourist resorts have been the biggest beneficiaries of the tourism boom that has brought millions of people to the archipelago, and the tour operators have helped to drive up their prices.
But in the last two years, the cost of lodging has skyrocketed.
Many Batanes resort operators are now charging as much as $100 a night for a room at the Batanos’ popular island-themed resort, Laguna Bay.
The price is a drop from the $300 that the operators charged just two years ago, and it reflects the fact that the industry is facing a severe downturn in the economy, as well as the fact the resort’s owners are also facing heavy competition from more upscale tourist sites in other parts of the archbishopric.
Tour operators have been trying to keep up with demand.
But the demand is now so high that some resorts are now going bankrupt, as the price of lodging for many people has increased from $150 a night to $250, a surge that is prompting the resorts to close.
Laguna Bay, the island’s most popular resort, closed down last week after about a year and a half.
The Batanes’ most popular beach resort, Culebra, closed in July after about six months.
And the Batanias most popular island, Batan Bay, is also closed.
The island’s tourism is growing by about 30 percent a year, and Batanes tourism director Roberto Palomares said the industry has been able to compete with some of the most upscale resorts in the archdiocese.
But in Laguna, which is about two hours from the Batan Islands, the price has skyrocketged to $300 a night, with some resort operators charging as little as $50 a night.
The resort is closed now because it is too expensive to operate, Palomades said.
There is also a growing shortage of hotel rooms, Palimares said, adding that Batanes operators have also been trying hard to keep the price down.
Tour operator Manta, a company that operates about 50 hotels and resorts in Batanes, said in an e-mail that the price is still too high for a night’s stay, especially for those who want to go on a guided tour of Batanes or to visit its beaches.
It is also difficult to rent a room, said Manta president Juan Pablo Perez.
The Batanian government has been trying, however, to ease the situation.
It announced last month that the government would increase its hotel occupancy tax, which will be levied on rooms rented for more than four nights, from 2 percent to 5 percent, starting next year.
Palomades says the government has also made some concessions.
He said the government will offer incentives for those looking to stay in Batan or Laguna.
But he says there are also other measures, including a hike in the rate of tax on lodging.
Palmares said Batanes hotels have been increasing their rooms to help cover the increased cost.
And he said the cost is expected to increase by a third this year.
Batanes’ tourism boom, fueled by a series of recent high-profile disasters in the region, has also brought in foreign tourists, including many from the United States, who have been spending time in Batanos.
But Palomases says Batanes resorts are struggling to attract these visitors, especially those who are used to living in the cities and are not familiar with the islands and its history.
Palimares says the Batano region has seen more than 50,000 deaths in the disaster, with many others still unaccounted for.
He also said there have been some major health problems, such as malaria and hepatitis.
Batanos, which has been a popular tourist destination for more, decades, has been struggling with its health crisis and has not been able, for some time, to keep its hotels open, said Palomadas wife, Rosa, who works as a cook at Batanes restaurants.
It’s difficult to be a tourist and to be in a hotel, she said.