TACLOBAN CITY — Six months after super typhoon Yolanda devastated many areas in Eastern Visayas, the town of Guiuan in Eastern Samar is still reeling from its effects, particularly for its tourism industry.
Guiuan Mayor Christopher Sheen Gonzales said they can feel the decline in tourism and tourist activities in the area especially during these summer months.
He added that the local government unit is still trying to regain the town’s reputation as a popular tourist destination in this side of the country and they have already sought the help of the private sector to help them revive the tourism industry.
“There is really a very notable decline. But little by little, we are reviving our tourism industry because this is one of the main source for our local economy,” the mayor said.
With its location facing the Pacific Ocean, Guiuan is known for its big waves and is thus popular among surfers.
Mayor Gonzales said that Surf Camp, one of the more popular surfing resorts in Calicoan Island in Guiuan, may reopen before the year ends. He added that Surf Camp owner, Mayor Sandy Javier of Javier town in Leyte, has assured him that the resort will operate again once fully restored.
In Sulangan, Guiuan, the miraculous San Antonio de Padua Church, a church popular among Catholic devotees, was likewise not spared by Yolanda and yet to undergo restoration.
Another church, the parish church of the Immaculate Conception of Guiuan which was built by the Jesuits in the early 18th century and further decorated by the Franciscans in the 19th century, has yet to start restoration.
This 400-year old church is also among the cultural and religious destinations in Guiuan town and has been considered for inclusion on the World Heritage List of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Also, Guiuan’s very own Pearl Island, a favorite among scuba divers, didn’t escape Yolanda’s wrath and still faces rehabilitation.
Mayor Gonzales however couldn’t say when the rehabilitation of these damaged cultural sites and tourist destinations will be completed, but they continue to ask the national government, local and foreign organizations and the private sector for help.
He said he remains very optimistic that they can revive the tourism industry as quickly as possible.