Philippines’ Tourism Still Suffers From Hostage Crisis

The Philippines’ tourism industry has lost an estimated US$12 million in revenue after Hong Kong issued a black travel alert to the Philippines, right after a bungled hostage rescue last year that led to the deaths of eight of its nationals.

Under Hong Kong’s Outbound Travel Alert System, Hong Kong residents are advised to avoid all travel to the Philippines, including Syria, due to the severe threat in these countries.

The black alert prevented Hong Kong travel agents from selling package tours to the Philippines.

However, tourist arrivals in the Philippines reached an all time high of 3.52 million last year despite the bus hijacking incident.

Benito Bengzon, assistant secretary for International Tourism Promotions, Department of Tourism, said: “Compared to the same figure in 2010, we’re down 21 per cent.

“The decrease can be attributed largely to the black travel alert which is still in effect.

“Hong Kong has always been a very strong market for the Philippines, and we would like to continuously and actively engage our partners from the travel trade.”

The Department of Tourism has been negotiating with Hong Kong for the removal or downgrading of the black travel alert, assuring the territory of the reforms made to ensure the safety and security of foreign visitors.

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