MANILA—The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Thursday offered condolences to the family of Canadian tourist John Ridsdel who was abducted and later beheaded by Abu Sayyaf militants in Jolo, Sulu earlier this week.
Ridsdel was one of four hostages, including another Canadian national Robert Hall, held by the Abu Sayyaf since September 2015. Abu Sayyaf issued a ransom deadline that lapsed on Monday.
“We express deep sadness about this incident in Jolo as we join our nation and the Government of Canada in mourning the loss of Mr. Ridsdel. We extend our deep sympathy and condolences to Mr. Ridsdel’s family and friends,” DOT Assistant Secretary Art Boncato said.
“The department condemns all acts of terrorism and violence against tourists and we will always work hard towards a very safe and secure environment for our guests,” he added.
Boncato stressed that the department and concerned agencies place high importance in every tourist’s welfare when moving around the Philippines.
He also said that the department is in direct links with various government and private agencies pertaining to guests’ comfort and well-being.
“This serious undertaking we shall carry on because every tourist deserves to have a comfortable, meaningful, and memorable stay in the country,” the DOT official said.
Boncato meanwhile assured that the department will clearly deliver this message to the Philippines’ foreign markets as it is currently doing at the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai and in future travel trade fairs, business missions, and meetings.
He also said that the country’s doors will always be open as the department remain optimistic about the upward growth of arrivals to the Philippines.
Canada is currently the sixth top foreign market to the Philippines with 36,773 arrivals recorded for February 2016.
Total foreign tourist arrivals to country posed double-digit growth of 20.42 percent to 549,725 visitors in February 2016 compared to the 456,524 visitors acquired in the same period last year. DOT aims to acquire 6 million tourists by yearend.
DOT attributed this surge to the government’s efforts to raise greater awareness among the international community and unlock investments in the Philippines’ emerging economy.