Just as tourists were planning to return, Rai wiped out Siargao

Published on : Thursday, December 23, 2021

After Covid-19 restrictions eased finally, resort and bar owners on a Philippine island which is quite sought-after among surfers and tourists were hoping for a bumper Christmas holiday. However, the Super Typhoon, Rai, totally damaged everything.

In 2021, it’s the strongest storm to hit the archipelago, cut a swathe through Siargao, a heaven famous for its sandy beaches, big waves and relaxed vibe.

Last Thursday, wind speed went up to 195kms per hour as it made landfall on the island. This devastating storm uprooted palm trees, shredded thatched roofs, damaged wooden buildings, and toppled power poles.

Voted the best in Asia by Condé Nast Traveler readers in 2021, the extensive damage of Rai left the island completely unrecognisable.

“The day after the storm, we went outside and we were like ‘wow, this is Siargao now, it’s no more’,” Claudine Mendoza, 27, a sous chef at a beachfront resort, told AFP.

“Even Cloud Nine is no more, it was really devastated,” Mendoza said, referring to the island’s surf break where a wooden boardwalk – a favoured selfie spot for tourists – was swept away by the typhoon.

For all tourism operators, the storm is a bitter blow. Just a week before the Christmas holidays, it just hit them when many Filipino families normally prefer to explore the famed beaches of the country along with exotic dive spots.

The restrictions related to travel during pandemic destroyed visitor numbers to the island for the last two years, leaving several resorts, cafes, souvenir shops and tour guides fighting tremendously hard to stay alive.

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