China slaps new travel ban on the Philippines while South Koreans get jittery over destination's security
SAFETY and security concerns in the Philippines are warding off travellers from China and South Korea, two of the destination’s biggest tourism source markets.
Chinese arrivals grounded to a halt after China warned its citizens on Friday not to travel to the Philippines due to the kidnapping of an 18-year-old Chinese in Zamboanga and an alleged plot against the Chinese embassy and Chinese companies in the country.
The general manager of a major Philippine travel agency handling Chinese inbound told TTG Asia e-Daily that "there's zero, absolutely zero, arrivals" and bookings were cancelled for September and the October high season.
The operations manager of another local agency big on Chinese tourists said the travel advisory has "big impact" on hotels, airlines' regular and chartered flights, and travel agencies as there are already "cancellations of bookings until December for groups and even FITs".
This is China's second travel advisory against the Philippines in recent years. The first, a five-month group travel ban in May 2012, was caused by the diplomatic row over ownership claims to Scarborough Shoal islands in the South China Sea.
While China has since reclaimed its position as the fourth biggest tourism source market for the Philippines, accounting for a 10 per cent market share, a prolonged travel advisory would render Boracay, their favourite destination, a "ghost town" according to two travel consultants, underscoring the gravity of the situation.
Safety and security concerns could also be denting arrivals from South Korea, the country's biggest source market accounting for 22 per cent of all tourist arrivals.
Early this month on September 2, the South Korean embassy in Manila expressed alarm over the "the rising incidence of crimes committed against (South) Koreans while in the Philippines either on vacation or on business".
In a statement, ambassador Hyuk Lee warned that South Korean businessmen would avoid the Philippines if crimes persisted.
South Korean arrivals had always seen a double-digit growth but for the first time in recent years, it dwindled by 6.37 per cent to 547,971 in 1H2014.
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