Following the encounter between the government and terror group Abu Sayyaf in Bohol, various countries had issued travel advisories in the Philippines particularly in Central Visayas.
It has been reported that there are at least 500 travelers from Japan that canceled their trips to Cebu. Rajah Tours Philippines Chair, Alejandra Clemente, cited that the tourists could’ve spent around P30 million during their visit. She wrote a letter to Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo last Monday, saying that the travel advisories “are starting to take their toll” on the tourist industry.
In her letter, she stated that the travel advisories make the Philippines appear to be a dangerous place for tourists and that it has placed the country in a negative light, thus affecting the flow of tourists.
She also suggested in her letter that should stakeholders be invited for a dialogue to further assess and confirm the actual situation in the region, and come up with countermeasures to address the negative effect of the travel advisories, she would be willing to help and organize the parties involved.
Teo had yet to respond to Clemente’s letter. Assistant Secretary Ricky Alegre said that the Department of Tourism (DOT) is taking Clemente’s letter seriously and that they are currently closely coordinating with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the Philippine National Police to address the issue.
However, he neither confirmed nor denied the report of about 500 Japanese nationals canceling their trip to Cebu. Although he stated that the situation is alarming as countries such as the United States, Australia, Canada and Korea had already issued travel advisories to its citizens to be more cautious whilst traveling to the area, particularly Central Visayas.
“It is unfair to declare a travel advisory in the country because it affects the entire country. We want to remind the other countries that we are an archipelago, which means that we have lots of other areas where their citizens can visit,” he said.
Meanwhile, other executive officials assured the DOT that the travel advisories will not in any way, hurt the Philippine economy and assured tourists that they should not be worried at all about their security in the country.