Tourism Sec assures: R.P. safe

Community News & Features Mar 1, 2005 at 4:21 pm

MANILA – “The Philippines remains a safe destination for travel. The Valentine’s Day bombing incidents, while unfortunate, are clearly isolated,” said Secretary of Tourism Joseph Ace Durano.

“We have always had security arrangements with the Philippine Navy and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to ensure the safety of both local and foreign tourists,” he added.

The Department of Tourism stepped up coordination with the PNP’s Bantay Turista, the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Task Group Stingray, and the industry stakeholders to make certain that systems and procedures are in place to ensure the safety and security of tourists in the country.

Durano was assured by Task Group Stingray and the PNP that they have increased the security alert status and deployment of security personnel throughout the country. The industry stakeholders, on the other hand, are confident that their security measures will prevent any untoward incident in their areas of responsibility, while in close coordination with the PNP and Task Group Stingray.

Despite the Feb. 14 bombing incidents, the Department forecasts continued tourism growth from arrivals, especially as its four focused markets are not as sensitive to these types of incidents. In fact, during the first ten days of January, arrivals to the country recorded a 9.97 percent growth as compared to the same period last year, per NAIA arrivals. As figures from other airports like Laoag, Clark, Palawan, Subic, and Cebu come in, these arrival figures are expected to increase.

Even the Washington Post, in an article written by Andrea Sach entitled Philippines: Good to Go, urges U.S. tourists not to abandon the Philippines as a tourist destination despite the harsh global realities of kidnappings and terrorism. According to the article, U.S. State Department advisories directing U.S. citizens to exercise caution and maintain security awareness while in the Philippines were more of a “be careful” than a “don’t go” warning.

The article quoted Rob Maxwell, an Asia regional analyst for iJet Travel Risk Management, as saying that the country has secure tourist zones.

“Right now, there’s no real reason to avoid the country altogether. It’s just about being smart about where you’re going,” he said.