Manila, Philippines, 17 October 2013: Philippines Tourism Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez, Jr., together with the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the tourism industry, expressed their deepest sympathies to the families and victims of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Bohol and Cebu last Tuesday morning, which also resulted in significant damages to cultural and heritage structures. The DOT has commenced moves for the swift recovery and rehabilitation of key tourism infrastructures in Cebu and Bohol. Secretary Jimenez said, “We ought to find ways to speed up recovery of the affected areas, especially that tourism is a major industry fueling their economies.”
The DOT Region 7 office reports that most hotels, resorts and other business establishments have resumed their operations and business as usual is being observed in Cebu and Panglao Island in Bohol. The rest are still assessing the structural integrity of their establishments. Though there are some tours still being carried out, areas severely affected by yesterday’s quake are off-limits to the public. These include the Basilica del Sto. Nino and Fort San. Pedro in Cebu, the Baclayon Church and Dauis Church in Bohol, and its other heritage churches. The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) and the National Commission of Culture and the Arts (NCCA) are conducting the necessary assessment of these heritage structures.
Parallel to the Secretary’s visit to the provinces tomorrow, the DOT’s Crisis Management Committee headed by Undersecretary Daniel G. Corpuz, will hold consultation meetings with heads of industry to come up with a contingency plan to regain market confidence and a plan to offer alternative tour programs within Cebu/Bohol.
“While it will take time to restore the heritage sites, reconstruction of damaged facilities in other attractions and transportation infrastructure should proceed with haste. Our Tourism Infrastructure Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) will help rehabilitate the view deck of the Chocolate Hills [pictured above] and other amenities. On the other hand, the DOT-DPWH convergence program will need to be skewed to include reparation of roads and bridges,” Jimenez added.
“On the business side, I call on our industry leaders and suppliers to swiftly embark on aggressive plans to sustain the destinations’ marketability and to achieve normalcy. Cooperation and commitment is key and I am confident that Cebu and Bohol leaders have plenty of these,” the tourism chief stated.
“It’s back to work for the tourism industry because now more than ever, Bohol and Cebu need their tourism income to move forward from this unfortunate tragedy,” Secretary Jimenez concluded.