Damage just ‘temporary setback’-A A +A
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
THE damage to valuable tourism assets, including heritage sites, in Central Visayas in Tuesday’s 7.2 magnitude earthquake will only cause a “temporary setback” on the tourism industry in Cebu and Bohol, tourism stakeholders said yesterday.
Tourism is a key industry in the two provinces.
Cebu Province tourism consultant Patria Aurora Roa said in a phone interview yesterday that as long as road networks will be fixed and structures restored, it will be “business as usual” for both provinces.
No major impact
Roa sees no major negative impact of the earthquake on Cebu tourism as tourism infrastructure like hotels, resorts and airports are operational. Tourism in Bohol, though, still has to bear with the impact of the earthquake.
“The destination itself will not suffer. There were no damages of resorts and hotels in Cebu, unlike what happened to Thailand, where tourists were advised to leave Bangkok due to the rising floodwaters,” said Roa. She said the sooner the damage caused by the earthquake are fixed, the better it is for tourism.
The Heritage Conservation Society (HCS) said there was significant damage to churches in Baclayon, Dauis, Dimiao, Loay, Loboc, Loon and Maribojoc in Bohol. The churches are all categorized as National Cultural Treasures or National Historical Landmarks. The Sto. Niño Basilica and Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral in Cebu also sustained major damages.
The popular Chocolate Hills were not spared.
Alice Queblatin, Tourism Congress vice president for Visayas travel and tour group said they are still assessing the impact of the calamity so they could reach out to their colleagues in Bohol and southern Cebu.
Queblatin, who operates Southwind Travel and Tours Inc., disclosed that they already received cancellations of tours since Tuesday and accommodation packages until end of October.
“It’s a great loss because the Cebu-Bohol duo destination is a fast-selling tour package today,” she said. She said tourism stakeholders will to have to meet to come up with unified strategies.
Tourism advocate Jonathan Jay Aldeguer, in a separate interview, said he is more worried with the damaged infrastructure particularly road networks, given that 12 bridges in Bohol were compromised. He said this might take quite a time to restore, depending on how fast the National Government will act on fixing the damaged road network.
He said there is expected decrease in visitor arrivals particularly in Bohol, where major tourism sites were damaged, but he is confident it will rebound quickly.
Aldeguer believes Cebuanos and Boholanos will manage to rise again. “We are known for being resilient. We will manage to bring back the vibrancy of both provinces,” he said.
He said the immediate return of operations of Tagbilaran and Cebu airports is a positive sign that both provinces are still open to do business amid the calamity.
“We were able to show to the world that we are still open to accept guests and do business,” he said.
Aldeguer also lauded efforts of the Department of Tourism (DOT) in managing the crisis, particularly in ensuring the safety of guests billeted in hotels and resorts.
He said the agency is now doing its best to find ways to reconstruct quake-damaged heritage sites.
Cebu and Bohol are among the country’s top travel destinations. DOT 7 reported 1.7 million arrivals in the region, up by 14.78 percent in the first semester this year.
Of this figure, Cebu had 1.2 million visitors while Bohol accounted for 218,390.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 17, 2013.