TRAVEL companies are cancelling tours and scrambling to keep tourists comfortable in the wake of yesterday's 7.2 magnitude earthquake.
The earthquake, which struck 2km south-east of Carmen town in Bohol at 08.12, temporarily disrupted operations at Mactan-Cebu International Airport and Tagbilaran Airport in Bohol as well as ferry services to Tagbilaran port. It also dealt heavy damage to Bohol’s road network, collapsing four bridges and leaving cracks in major roads.
Jun de los Reyers, marketing manager of Travel Village, said upcoming tours (inbound refers to only foreign incoming) for domestic, South Korean and Chinese clients were cancelled for the foreseeable future while the company assessed the situation. “We have to ask (our clients) to defer their programmes, probably to November.”
Guests housed at Bohol Tropics Resort in Tagbilaran, where Travel Village is based, are staying in tents and getting electricity through generators, while Travel Village consultants run makeshift operations nearby for safety reasons, he added.
Aileen Domingo, vice president of CCT.168 Travel & Tours, said the agency was discouraging tours within Bohol and telling travellers to remain within their resorts as heavy aftershocks continue today. “Some tourists were insisting on city tours (to Tagbilaran) and the countryside tour, which we couldn’t allow,” she said.
The majority of Panglao resorts sustained minor damage in the earthquake, according to the chairman of the provincial tourism council of Bohol, Lucas Nunag. Power in Tagbilaran has been restored, but not for all Panglao resorts, though most properties have their own generators, he said.
Over in Cebu, tours were cancelled yesterday but were resumed immediately afterward, according to Jun Barretto, president of Cebu Trip Tours. “Malls in Cebu were closed, as well as some shops and other establishments.”
Tourist attractions also took a beating, with Chocolate Hills, Baclayon Church, Loboc river and Loboc church – the last completely flattened by the quake – still off limits. At least 10 Spanish-era churches were damaged or destroyed in Bohol, while the belfry of Sto Nino Shrine in Cebu fell apart during the quake.