THE Department of Tourism (DoT) on Monday reaffirmed the government’s commitment to help tourism establishments recover and rebuild in localities affected by calamities.
Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon Teo made the statement after President Rodrigo Duterte pledged P2-billion financial assistance for speedy recovery operations during his visit to quake-hit areas in Surigao City.
“We are closely coordinating with the tourism sector and local government units in Surigao to help in the recovery and rehabilitation of damaged visitor destinations in the soonest possible time,” Teo said in a statement.
According to initial reports from the Surigao City Tourism Office, at least two tourist accommodation facilities were badly damaged, Jec Pension House and Parkway Hotel. The authorities reported there were no casualties among the foreign and local tourists in the areas.
At least eight people died and 126 were injured on Friday when a 6.7-magnitude earthquake hit Surigao City.
“The DoT joins the whole nation in expressing our deepest concerns for those who were affected by the powerful 6.7-magnitude earthquake that hit Surigao del Norte and nearby towns,” Teo said.
“Rest assured, we will provide all the support necessary to help the tourism sector in the said destinations to recover and rebuild and remain to be one of the country’s key tourist havens,” she added.
Meanwhike, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) suspended the operation of the Surigao City Airport since Saturday because of the damaged runway, pending month-long repair works.
The nearest alternate route to Surigao City is to take flights to and from Butuan airport, which is a two-hour drive away.
Meanwhile, all vessels and operation at the Lipata port are diverted to the Port of Surigao due to damage to bridges at the national highway and Sabang area.
The Anao-aon Bridge in the Municipality of San Francisco collapsed and remained impassable to all types of vehicles.
The DoT advised potential travelers to check with DoT overseas and regional offices for updates on travel situations in affected areas.