Boracay Island was one of many tourist destinations that was damaged during Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), but wasn’t as bad as some other areas. On Thursday, the Philippine tourism agency said the country is still “safe” and “fun” for visitors.
Many of the beach areas have been cleaned, and writer Norm Schriever said people should come to the island if they want. “In fact, a tourism pullback can only damage local economies,” he wrote. After the storm passed, users on Twitter posted photos of themselves lounging on the beach. “Unlike the neighboring islands in the Visayas, we were pretty lucky. We expected the worse, and we were prepared. I feel it’s a miracle to have this little damage to our island and our community,” said local Armand TJ in a blog.
On Thursday, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. issued a statement, saying that the Philippines needs people to visit, describing the country as “safe” as well as “fun.”
“Tourism continues to be one of the major contributors to the economy, playing a significant role in rebuilding lives and businesses in communities. We rely on our partners, both in the private and public sectors, to embark on initiatives that will help us achieve normalcy and sustain the tourism growth, particularly in the affected destinations,” he said, reported ABS-CBN.
There were a few towns that are frequented by tourists that were hit hard during the storm, including Capiz, Aklan, and Coron, he said.
“Our objective is to focus on quick recovery so that tourism income is restored at the soonest possible time. Bulletin announcements will be posted via the DOT web site (www.tourism.gov.ph), while our overseas and regional offices are also on standby to assist potential travelers and those already in the country for travel information,” he added.
“We assure the traveling public that tourism establishments and tourism activities continue and remain in operation in the other parts of the Philippines, which play host to some of the country’s key tourist destinations.”
Jimenez told Bloomberg that he expects the impact on tourism to be minimal on the economy of the Philippines, which is ranked by risk research company Maplecroft as the most at risk country in the world from natural disasters.
“The disruptions are temporary and soon enough they will realize that the great number of tourism sites, dive spots included, in the over 7,107 islands of the Philippines remain available and ready for visitors,” Jimenez said.
More than 2,300 people were killed in the typhoon and entire cities and towns were leveled. Relief aid is slowly trickling into affected areas.