MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Businesses catering to tourists in El Nido — described by CNNGo as the Best Beach and Island destination in the Philippines — are bracing for the wrath of typhoon Pablo (international codename: Bopha), which has hammered various parts of the country already.
Luxury hideaways of the Ayala Land-led El Nido Resorts in the islets of Lagen, Miniloc, Apulit and Pangulasian are bearing much of Pablo’s brunt.
Vince Perez, El Nido Resorts chairman, tweeted this:
Relieved our El Nido Resorts only suffered minor typhoon damage such as broken ceiling fans and broken beach cabanas.Whew!#PabloPH— Vince S Perez (@VinceSPerez) December 5, 2012
To ensure the safety of its guests, the high-end resort operator allowed their guests, whose vacation has already ended, to stay longer at reduced rates.
Transportation options going to and out of El Nido is currently limited. Chartered flights via Island Transvoyager Inc. (ITI), which provides air access for the El Nido Resorts guests, cancelled flights starting Tuesday, December 4.
“Pablo” is currently affecting Palawan island province located west of the Philippines as the typhoon exits toward the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea). El Nido is at the northern tip of Palawan.
At the mainland, where El Nido’s town center is located, over 80 small and medium businesses catering to tourists were mandated to prioritize the safety of tourists.
“All island hopping activities were cancelled by the coast guard,” according to Sam Perez, the communication officer of El Nido’s local government. The coast guard has been briefing the multi-sectoral disaster coordinating council composed of representatives of resort owners, local government, and non-government organizations
The different island boat tours are the main tourist activity in El Nido, which boasts of “extraordinary natural splendor and ecosystem,” according to CNNGo.
Island hoppers are usually treated to El Nido’s crystal-clear waters, scenic landscapes, several pockets of quiet beaches, and hidden lagoons amid lush forest cover.
There are over a hundred pumpboat operators poised to take advantage of the influx of tourists, mostly foreigners, hoping to bask in tropical sun and sand. Peak tourist season in El Nido is from November to February.
Pumpboat operators have been told to secure their boats in the Big Lagoon, at Corong-Corong bay, and other areas.
At the mainland, resort owners and restaurant operators along the bay were not allowed to set up tables and chairs during the evenings as they normally do to cater to tourists who would like relax after their island tours with a drink or dinner.
Instead, the resort owners were asked by the disaster council to share their resources, including facilities, diving equipment and personnel, in case of emergencies.
With the tourists having nothing much to do, restaurants, coffee shops and internet shops in town are full, according to Tane Distal, which operates the popular El Nido Boutique & Art Cafe.
“Bored tourists watch movies at the cafe, and books are available for those who just want quiet,” he said. – Rappler.com