Interest in Philippines high despite travel advisories

Aviation safety at Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport in question

The succession of travel advisories recently slapped against the Philippines has neither had a significant impact on inbound business nor triggered many trip cancellations, unlike in the past, according to some industry players.

Travel advisories were issued by the US with regard to Manila airport security not up to par with international standards, and by the UK, Canada and Australia against Mindanao over the terrorist bombing in Cotabato, and other parts of the country due to threats.

Aviation safety at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport in question

Despite these, Boris Travel and Tours general manager Irene Maliwanag said inbound business is increasing, including in Europe, traditionally considered a market sensitive to travel warnings.

She received a group of 17 Italian tourists recently, in addition to a booking made from Germany just a day after announcing her new dive packages to Coron and El Nido, Maliwanag noted.

“There are no sensitive markets anymore. Europe is prone to these kind of incidents,” opined Rajah Tours president Jojo Clemente. “Anywhere in the world, terrorist attacks can happen anytime”.

“The UK issued the travel advisory (against Mindanao) then the next day there were three stabbings in Manchester attributed to terrorist attacks. Can we issue a travel advisory against Manchester now?” Clemente asked.

He further challenged with the example of the US, whose partial government shutdown is causing Transportation Security Agency officers to resign, thereby posing a threat to passenger safety.

The Philippines is not known to issue travel advisories except in case of wars in countries where it has overseas Filipino workers.

Maliwanag said the reasons travel warnings are becoming less of a concern among travellers could be that the Philippine travel trade has become “very security minded” in protecting clients.

“As of today we have not received any negative comments, cancellations, not even questions,” Clemente said, adding that travellers are “very savvy, (and) already know where to go and where not to go” while travel consultants “(err) on the side of caution”, briefing clients to stick to what are considered safe areas.

A travel consultant requesting anonymity said they “don’t take security for granted – customers are advised against visiting places not considered safe, and in some cases they may even be disallowed from participating.

Clemente said: “Security is a subjective thing. How much security is enough security? In areas that are secure, incidents can happen and in areas without security, no untoward incidents happen. Travel entails courage and it is a choice.”

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