Typhoon Haiyan shuts down travel to Visayas

TOURISM is at a standstill in Cebu, Bohol, Boracay and other areas as super typhoon Haiyan made landfall in Visayas this morning, whipping a region that only three weeks earlier had been rocked by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake (TTG Asia e-Daily, October 16, 2013).

Known locally as Yolanda and reportedly the strongest this year, the typhoon prompted aviation authorities and airlines to abort flights yesterday and today. Further cancellations are likely tomorrow, when the Haiyan is expected to leave the country.

Hardest hit is Cebu Pacific Air, which has scrapped 122 roundtrip domestic flights and four roundtrip international flights between November 7 to 9.

Philippine Airlines (PAL) and LCC subsidiary PAL Express today cancelled 26 domestic and three international flights. PAL stopped its Cebu-Tokyo (Narita) flight, while PAL Express halted flights to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur from Manila.

AirAsia Philippines and AirAsiaZest terminated 12 flights today, and Tigerair Philippines has cancelled all domestic flights and its Kalibo-Singapore service.

Travel agencies report hundreds of tourists stranded in Boracay due to cancelled outbound flights and boat services.

Relly Magundayao, general manager of Wow Philippines Travel Agency, said her agency has foreign and domestic tourists stuck in Boracay at both the domestic and international airports. The agency is partnering local airport authorities to look after stranded tourists. In the meantime, it is remaining in touch with the tourists and has an emergency number they can call.

“The situation in Boracay is the same as in Cebu and Bohol,” she noted.

Nichelle Clemente, head, product management at Far East Travel Agency, said the typhoon is a force majeure so airlines usually allow rebooking and rerouting free of charge, although this means “more work and coordination for travel consultants handling group tours”.

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