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article imagePhilippine tourism sector suffers as Hong Kong cancels bookings

By Leo Reyes     Aug 27, 2010 in Travel
Philippine Airlines, the nation's main carrier, has reported cancellations of flight bookings for passengers coming from Hong Kong and other Chinese cities bound for the Philippines following the recent hostage-taking incident in Manila.
The airline company said at least 500 tourists from Hong Kong and mainland China have so far canceled their bookings.
Hong Kong has urged its nationals to avoid the Philippines as their travel destination as the government had issued a top-level 'black' travel alert to country.
PAL reported at least 155,000 passengers from Hong Kong and 200,000 from China have used the Philippine flag carrier last year.
Most of these passengers, though, are overseas workers from the Philippines who are working as domestic helpers in Hong Kong. reports:
PAL president Jaime Bautista said the country has probably not yet seen the worst of repercussions from Monday’s hostage-taking incident that left eight Hong Kong tourists dead.
PAL is beginning to feel the initial impact of a Hong Kong government advisory warning its residents to refrain from all travel to the Philippines. As of Wednesday, our Hong Kong station reported that at least 558 Manila-bound bookings were cancelled. The bookings consisted of tourists from Hong Kong, Beijing, Xiamen, and other points in China,” Bautista said, adding that two Hong Kong and Macau-bound Filipino tourists also opted to change their destination in view of the current situation.
Despite the reduced passenger load, Bautista said PAL will maintain its current flight frequency until such time that the situation returns to normal.
“We’re closely monitoring the situation and will decide soon whether we will maintain or reduce flights,” he said. “We share the grief and understand the Hong Kong people’s wrath. We are optimistic that fears of traveling to the Philippines will be temporary,” he added.
Meanwhile, tourists coming from Hong Kong and other parts of China have not advised changes on their travel plans as around 300 tourists are expected to visit the country for its upcoming conference to be held in Manila next month, according to Evangeline Cheng, Ikebana International-Manila chapter president
“We also have confirmations of attendance by delegates and guests from Japan, India, Taiwan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, Australia, the United States, Germany and Italy,” Cheng said.
Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim as well as tourism industry officials previously said that the Luneta carnage would adversely affect the country’s tourism, but it is still expected to recover eventually.
Hong Kong businessman Victor Chan, owner of local Home Depot, said that “although the situation now has worsened” after Monday’s tragic hostage incident, he is confident that “it is only temporary.”
Business operators in the tourism sector share Lim's and Chan's views that travel cancellations to Manila and other Philippine destinations are only temporary and regular travel to the country from Hong Kong and mainland China will soon normalize.
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