Quake-shaken Pampanga stirs back to business

San Guillermo Parish in Bacolor among the 24 churches temporarily closed for inspection after sustaining damage in the quake

Pampanga, an emerging tourist hub a few hours from Manila famed for cuisine, heritage churches and adventure travel, is the most damaged by the magnitude 6.1 earthquake on Monday, but travel consultants expect impacts on the province’s tourism to be short term.

Twenty-four of the province’s heritage churches, including several damaged by the earthquake that was also felt in metro Manila, were closed for inspection.

San Guillermo Parish in Bacolor (pictured) is among the 24 churches temporarily closed for inspection

Danny Cerdena, general manager of Pampanga-based The Blue Voyage Travel Service, said he will know by today whether a group of eight tourists scheduled to take the new Mount Pinatubo Golden Trail Adventure on Saturday will be allowed to proceed.

Authorities will check whether the new route, from Sapang Bato in Angeles up to Porac passing through scenic gorges, lahar river beds and waterfalls up to the volcano’s crater is safe, Cerdena told TTG Asia on the sidelines of yesterday’s Travel Meeting Asia in Manila organised by Messe Berlin.

He said he is also working on a group of 60 pax from India planning a Pampanga tour in mid-May.

Despite certain damages to the old churches swarmed by pilgrims during the Lenten season, Cerdena said the earthquake should not impact on Pampanga’s tourism as the province remains accessible and its main attractions intact.

Ritchie Tuano, president of the Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA), said the quake’s biggest impact were the flight cancellations out of Clark International Airport, which was damaged and closed but reopened yesterday afternoon.

Tuano said there were PTAA members whose travel groups were affected by the flight cancellations, including those by Philippine Airlines with significant domestic operations in Clark; Cebu Pacific; Air Asia; Qatar Airways; Emirates and Cathay Dragonair. These airlines have since resumed operations in Clark.

The flight cancellations in Clark International Airport also affected the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) as a number of the flights in Clark were diverted to the latter.

Fe Abling Yu, general manager of Arfel Travel and Tours, said she has a group of 50 doctors going to Taiwan but their flight from NAIA was delayed by several hours.

Abling Yu said their partners understand the situation so they just adjusted the tour programme and everyone, from hotels down to tour guides, cooperated.

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