The Department of Tourism (DOT) is "taking seriously" the reports of the alleged overpricing of seafood by vendors at Virgin Island in Panglao, Bohol.
In a statement issued on Aug. 2, DOT Secretary Christina Frasco said that the overpricing issue is a matter of importance because it involves the welfare of tourists in the area.
"The alleged overpricing of seafood by vendors in Virgin Island, Panglao, Bohol is a matter that the Department of Tourism takes seriously especially as it concerns the welfare of tourists whose continued support for our destinations is critical to the recovery of the tourism industry," Frasco's statement read.
Reports of overpricing first surfaced when a group of tourists took to social media to complain about how they paid more than P26,000 for a seafood meal that they ate. The handwritten bill that circulated on social media included P800 for lato (seaweed), P900 for bananas and P1,300 for softdrinks for a group of 13 people, or roughly P2,000 per head. Netizens questioned the price of the food online on photos which went viral.
This led to Bohol Gov. Aris Aumentado to suspend motorbanca trips to Panglao’s Virgin island on Aug. 2 amid investigations of the incident.
Franco thanked Aumentado and Panglao Mayor Edgardo "Boy" Arcay for starting the probe into the matter and said that the tourism body is already in touch with the local government units of the area.
The DOT is also coordinating with the Department of Trade and Industry to discuss reasonable pricing standards.
"We are also coordinating with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) as it is imperative that reasonable pricing standards are upheld for purposes of consumer protection," Frasco stated.
She added, "Our Regional Office is also coordinating with the LGUs to provide guidance on standards for the provision of tourist goods and services, and we will extend trainings to the frontline tourism workers and stakeholders involved to safeguard the overall tourist experience in the Island."
Frasco stressed that though tourism-related businesses have been financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic's travel restrictions, "due care must always be given to the overall experience of tourists whether it concerns upholding the quality of accommodations, attaining a certain level of service, or ensuring the reasonable pricing of products."
"Tourism is a shared responsibility, and it is in helping each other along this period of recovery that we can fully enjoy the benefits that tourism brings," she ended.