MANILA, Philippines – The Ministry of Tourism last Thursday updated the public on the status of earthquake-affected tourist destinations in northern Luzon in the Cordillera Administrative Region and Region 1.
Some tourist sites were forced to close due to damage from the magnitude 7 earthquake that shook several parts of northern Luzon.
The DOT said earlier that two churches, declared National Cultural Treasures by the National Museum of the Philippines, were reportedly affected by the quake, while several heritage and ancestral homes also suffered notable damage due to the quake.
Below is an overview of the areas that tourists can and cannot visit:
- Abra – According to the DOT-CAR office as of July 28, all tourist activities in Abra remain suspended until further notice
- Baguio City – Open to visitors; Two hotels Lafaayette Luxury Suites Hotel and Crown will not accept visitors to ensure the safety of guests and staff in the meantime after reporting minor cracks in their buildings.
- Kabayan, Benguet – Open to visitors but visitors are advised to exercise caution when crossing the road due to the possibility of aftershocks and rain showers.
- Mount Pulag Protected Landscape – Open to visitors. However, hikers visiting MPPL are advised not to take the Akiki trail as there is an ongoing post-earthquake assessment.
- Sagada, Mountain Province – The DOT said all tourist sites except Cave Connection, Sumaguing, Balangagan and Pongas Falls also reopened to visitors last Thursday.
- Ilocos Sur – The DOT Region 1 office said several tourist sites in Ilocos Sur were closed to visitors after the earthquake. These include: Bantay Bell Tower, Bantay Church / St. Augustine of Hippo Parish Church, Archdiocesan Shrine of Nuestra Señora de Caridad de Bantay in Bantay; Sta. Maria de Sta. Married; St. Paul’s Cathedral, Heritage Village, Calle Crisologo, National Museum of Ilocos Sur Regional Complex, Syquia Mansion and all other sights in Vigan city.
The DOT said earlier that these structures had recorded damage, with some of them nearly collapsing.
- Pangasinan – As of Thursday, only Antong Falls in Sison have been closed due to a landslide.
- La Union – Tangadan Falls at San Gabriel and the Great Wall at Santol/Bilagan Road are temporarily closed, according to the DOT-1 report.
- Ilocos Norte – All tourist sites reopened on Thursday after a temporary suspension of tourist activities on Wednesday.
Additionally, DOT-1 said the following sites remain open despite reported damage: Sta. Monique de Sarrat church (bricks fallen on the altar); Old Convent of Bacarra (fallen bricks); Virgen Milagrosa/St. Church of Saint-Jean-Baptiste in Badoc (fallen bricks on the side of the church); and the Batac Immaculate Conception Church (with fallen debris outside).
Despite the reopening of some tourist sites affected by the strong earthquake, the tourism department advised tourists with travel plans in these affected areas to be extra careful.
He said local engineering offices are continuing to assess and inspect these sites.
Last Wednesday, Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco ordered regional offices to coordinate with local government units to extend assistance to tourism-related establishments affected by the earthquake.
She also asked them to continue assessing the extent of the damage caused by the earthquake.