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Saturday, September 4, 2010

Cebu airport notes no significant decline in tourist arrivals after hostage tragedy

There has been no significant decline in tourist arrivals nor has
there been any flight cancellations at the Mactan Cebu International
Airport a week after the hostage tragedy transpired at the country's
capital.

Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) Public Affairs
Manager Ahmed Cuizon said that so far, they have not received any
flight cancellations due to the tragic incident.

Although Cuizon did not rule out the possibility that the tourism
industry in Cebu will be greatly affected by what happened but that
"maybe in the next few weeks, there might be flight cancellations as
the travel ban to the country by China has already been issued."

"We have to understand that travel bookings are done in advance so it
is too early to tell about flight cancellations due to the incident,"
according to Cuizon.

But Department of Tourism (DOT-7) Officer-in-Charge Rowena Montecillo
said that following the hostage crisis that left eight Chinese
tourists dead, chartered flights from Shanghai and Canton have been
cancelled.

Cuizon said the incident serves as a challenge to all especially the
tourism stakeholders on how to initiate actions to overcome the
negative publicity the country is getting due to the handling of the
crisis.

The MCIAA based in Lapulapu City for its part joins the city
government in initiating a promotional package program together with
other tourism sectors like resorts and establishments designed to
attract tourists to come to Cebu, Cuizon said.

Cuizon said it is the initiative of the Lapulapu City Government to
come up with a promotional tourism package after the incident occurred
as the city is home to many luxurious hotel resorts, one of the
sectors that will be greatly affected is tourist arrivals decline.

The MCIAA public affairs manager said he believes that this is just a
temporary setback citing that relations between the Philippines and
China dates back centuries.

"I still believe that the hostage tragedy was an isolated case and
that relations between both nations will be mended," Cuizon stressed.

Cebu Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce President Filomeno Lim on
the other hand, said the severity of the damage caused by the hostage
incident to our tourism industry cannot be quantified.

Lim said the damage is not only economic in nature although it is the
most basic consideration.

"You have to consider that one tourist spends an average of
US$1,000/day and this alone is a much significant loss if we multiply
this to the number of tourists who have decided not to push through
their visit to the country," according to Lim.

Lim however, said that despite the fact that the victims were his
countrymen, he still would do his best to help the government by
promoting the Philippines to his relatives and friends in China.

Cebu has been a consistent favorite tourism destination among
international tourists but after the tragic incident, three hotels
reported booking cancellations from tourists coming in from China,
this is learned.

Montecillo said that in Central Visayas, Cebu and Bohol are the most
visited provinces by foreign tourists.

Chinese tourists ranked fourth as the most frequent travelers to Cebu
with Koreans as number one, Montecillo disclosed.

Bohol however, has Chinese tourists as their top traveler to the
province as Montecillo admitted that this would really have an impact
to Bohol's tourism sector.

Montecillo said despite what happened, they would not cease in their
promotional campaign abroad.

"We have regular sales mission and our marketing teams are assigned in
the promotional campaigns abroad. In fact, we have one schedule to
China," Montecillo said.

The DOT-7 chief said that after the hostage tragedy, they paid a visit
to the Consul General of the People's Republic of China to Cebu ans
apologized and offered their sympathies.

"We also held a mass and offered prayers for the victims of the
hostage tragedy," Montecillo added.

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