BAGUIO CITY – The 250-strong Hotel and Restaurant Association of Baguio (HRAB) underscored there is no stopping the upcoming visit of some 24 contestants of the Miss Universe to the city early next year amidst the denial of a local court over the conduction of a month-long Christmas bazaar at the Melvin Jones grandstand to purposely help defray the expenses to be incurred in one of the rarest events in the history of the city.
Andrew Pinero, HRAB media officer, said the group was deeply saddened by the setback of the local government and organizers over the bazaar as it would have been a concrete display of the unblemished partnership between the government and the private sector in managing one of the exceptional events that will happen in the city’s history.
“We will continue to silently do our part in the conduct of the event because we believe it is for the benefit not only of our city but also of the country as a whole. We do not want our future options to be derailed or sidelined because time is now of the essence,” Pinero stressed.
HRAB was already able to pay P14 million out of the total P25 million hosting fee to the international organizers of the Miss Universe beauty pageant to guarantee the visit of the selected contestants to the city on January 18, 2017. The first tranche of P7 million was paid to the organizers by the HRAB last November 7, 2016 upon the signing of the contract while the second tranche was again paid last week. The third and fourth tranches will then be paid sometime in January next year before the contestants’ scheduled arrival in the city.
Aside from the P25 million hosting fee or $500,000.00, HRAB will be responsible for the payment of the witholding tax, income tax, food, accommodation, transportation, and the four floats to be used by the contestants when parading in city areas.
Pinero explained HRAB will respect the decision of the court on the matter, saying that just like what the local government will do, the group, through their counsels, will argue its position to clear up things until the case will be resolved.
The proceeds of the month-long Christmas bazaar supposed to be held last December 1, 2016 to January 1, 2017 would be the city’s counterpart in the hosting of the visit of the Miss Universe contestants considering the well-covered international beauty pageant will help in providing free mileage for the city in some 160 countries, boosting the projected growth of the local tourism industry.
Pinero also claimed HRAB fully understands the predicament of the city officials supportive of the endeavor after the court handed down its decision but there is a need to push through with the hosting of the visit of the contestants, as out of numerous local governments it is a privilege for the city to be chosen to host one of the events of Miss Universe scheduled in the SM Mall of Asia on January 30, 2017.
By Dexter A. See