Philippine losses post-hostage crisis ‘drop in bucket’


The Philippines is still on track to meet its Department of Tourism (DoT) target of 3.3 million tourists in 2010, according to DoT secretary Alberto Lim.
Mr Lim said that before the recent hostage crisis, which resulted in the death of eight Hong Kong tourists, visitor arrivals into the Philippines were up by 11 per cent over the year before.

“Hong Kong is four per cent of the market, we’re probably going to lose one per cent at the most, and it looks like we aren’t even going to lose that,” Mr Lim told ABS-CBN.

While the full effect of the hostage crisis on tourism numbers will not be known until March or April next year, Mr Lim said that DoT will “just have to work harder” if there was a loss of one per cent.

Mr Lim did not discount the effect of the damage to the Philippines’ reputation but said, “I think we overestimated the effect".

Quoting reports from the first fortnight after the incident of 3,760 cancellations in key destinations Boracay, Laoag, Manila, Cebu, Mr Lim said that the estimated loss of 40 million pesos was “a drop in the bucket” in comparison to the 100 billion pesos total revenue brought into the country by tourism.

The Philippine government have put a temporary halt on its efforts to promote the Philippines in Hong Kong, Mr Lim saying a more sensitive approach would be needed at this critical juncture.

Naturally beautiful Philippines on target

“Going to Hong Kong at this time would be wrong…we should show sympathy," Mr Lim said.

The country will focus on other source markets outside of Asia, such as Russians who, according to Mr Lim, stay for longer periods and spend more money.
However, the ability of the Philippines to expand into the European market is hampered by “policy issues” such as taxes on foreign airlines and tourism infrastructure.
“We have to have more access," Mr Lim said, adding that the Philippines needed to implement conditions to appeal to foreign carriers.
"We need legislation to lift that tax [on foreign airlines].

“They feel they’re being unduly penalised."
According to ABS-CBN, DoT is aiming for 3.6 million tourist arrivals for 2011.

Source = e-Travel Blackboard: G.A
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