MANILA—Despite US travel warnings, tourists continue to visit the province of Palawan as law enforcement authorities continue to ensure their safety, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said Friday.
To recall, US Embassy, on its website, warned its citizens against traveling to Palawan as it has received information that some terrorist groups are planning to abduct foreign nationals in the province.
Threatened by purported terrorist activities in Palawan are Puerto Princesa City and areas surrounding the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park.
Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo, however, expressed confidence that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) are on top of the situation.
“Prior to the issuance of this week’s travel advisories, police and military readily put security measures in place,” Teo said in a statement noting that Palawan is still a safe place to visit.
She is also confident that the Palawan, which has consistently been voted “World’s Most Beautiful Island” by international travel magazines, will continue to enjoy influx of tourists.
AFP Public Affairs Office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo earlier said that the AFP respects the US government’s decision to issue a travel advisory warning but has yet to detect any threat that could compromise the safety of tourists.
PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa also debunked unconfirmed reports of any terrorists’ presence in Palawan.
The AFP and PNP have placed their respective security forces on high-alert since April in the wake of military encounter with Abu Sayyaf Group in Bohol.
Security forces have also been deployed in other tourist attractions including Palawan, Cebu, and Boracay.
Teo repeatedly enjoined the governments and embassies of other countries to coordinate and take time to find out the actual situation and establish “clear and present danger” in any locality subject to prospective travel warning.
Palawan, a top tourist destination in the Philippines, enjoys “zero-crime incidence.” In 2016, the island acquired a total of 1.10 million tourists. Out of the number, 718,486 were domestic tourists.
US remains the top foreign market in Palawan with 57,224 visitors, followed by Taiwan (46,796); China (23,678); France (21,993); and Korea (18,550).