Ocean Adventure, the biggest tourism operator in this Freeport, is launching a donation drive to keep its animals alive and well amid the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) period.
Robert Ianne Gonzaga, president and chief executive officer of Subic Bay Marine Exploratorium Inc. (SBMEI), operator of Ocean Adventure, Adventure Beach Waterpark and Camayan Resort Hotel here, said in a statement Tuesday that the fund drive for the animals is an unprecedented but necessary step for them to do.
Gonzaga said that since the implementation of ECQ last March, their revenues have gone down to zero and will remain so for the short-term while the costs and expenses remain high due to the caring and feeding of animals and maintenance of the facilities.
“We rely only on our revenues to deliver the best of care for our animals and to ensure that they are in a safe and secure environment, with expert support available from our vets and caretakers,” he said.
Ocean Adventure, which is responsible for attracting hundreds of thousands of guests and visitors to Subic Freeport every year, has been grappling with the negative impacts of the lockdown.
Last month, it retrenched more than 200 of its employees and placed the remaining 300 on forced leave.
“The disruption this pandemic has caused is unprecedented and likely to last for quite some time into the future, even after the quarantine is lifted. Our attendance numbers started plummeting in late January as concern for Covid-19 began to spread, and it got worse in February, which forced us to retrench workers in March — days before the entire Luzon was put under lockdown. Now, all our businesses have shut down, aside from the hotel which is operating with a skeletal force. There is a lot of pain being felt across the entire tourism industry,” Gonzaga said.
SBMA chairman and administrator Wilma Eisma had earlier required manufacturing firms which continue to operate according to the guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to house their employees inside the Subic Freeport.
This enabled some hotels here to remain operational with a skeletal crew, catering to guests in essential industries — the only source of income for the duration of the lockdown.
In a statement posted on its official website, the SBMEI said the donations that the fund drive will generate will be used to purchase animal food, medicine, and vitamins, help support the animal caretakers, divers and volunteers who maintain their enclosures, veterinarians and lab technicians who provide for the health care of the animals, and pay for utilities for pumps, freezers and other equipment for the care of the animals.
“We currently have enough food for our animals to last to the beginning of June, however, since we do not expect to generate any revenue anytime soon, we are trying to raise funds to feed and support our animals for the rest of the year 2020,” Gonzaga said.
“The path to recovery is going to be long and hard, not just for our company but for everyone else in the tourism industry. That said, our animals at Ocean Adventure cannot make it through without external support in the months ahead. But we believe that with your help, nothing is impossible,” he added. (PNA)