The Provincial Tourism Office is now verifying the travel advisories of different countries preventing theirpeople from visiting the Philippines, especially Negros Occidental, after the incident early this month where foreigners were injured in Cauayan town, in an ambush allegedly staged by the New People's Army.
Provincial Tourism Officer CristineMansinares said yesterday that some foreign tourists cancelled their bookings and cutshort their visit to some tourist sites in south Negros, days after the incident.
Mansinares said she received reports from tour operators in Manila that foreigners have been cancelling their bookings to the Philippines, especially to Negros Occidental, based on the travel advisories issued by various countries.
The reports she received said the countries of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands have issued travel advisories that warn their people on the current situation in the province, especially in southern Negros.
The DAILY STAR has identified five countries to have travel advisory warnings on visiting southern Negros, including Dumaguete City, posted on their government websites recently.
These countries are Ireland, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
However, the threats were not referring to the incident inCauayan but to rampant incidents of kidnapping in the Visayas and Mindanao region.
An advisory of Canada on a website, www.travel.gc.ca, said that foreigners were “subjected to extremely harsh treatment executed by their captors” when they were kidnapped.
It said that, though the incident threat is significantly high in Mindanao region, elevated threats of kidnapping could also occur in southern Negros Island, Suiquijor and Palawan and other provinces situated in Sulu Sea.
The same report was also stated in the travel advisory of UK, through their website www.gov.uk, that these kidnapping threats extend through the country in both land and sea but “particularly acute” in the southern part.
They named Mindanao, the Sulu archipelago, Palawan and central Visayas region, including Siquijor and Dumaguete, and extending to coastal resorts, dive sites, and offshore areas in the nearby waters of the Sulu Sea and Celebes Sea where the incidents mostly happened.
“Foreigners have been targeted in rural, urban and coastal areas, on private boats, in marinas and resorts. The threat of kidnapping isn't confined to terrorist strongholds, and kidnaps may be opportunistic,” the British website said.
New Zealand has also warned their locals on these incidents through www.safetravel.govt.nz, Australia in smartraveller.gov.au, and Ireland in www.dfa.ie.
The Netherlands through its Amsterdam Embassy website has also warned the Hollanders to also take a look at travel advisories of the Canadian and United States government before considering visiting the country.
These countries have updated their advisories from June to September this year and it is still valid until today.
Mansinares also said are still waiting for the verification of the documents from the tour operators showing travel advisories of the said country or other countries that expressed warnings on visiting south Negros.
Usually, resorts and tourist sites in Sipalay City, the neighboring city of Cauayan, receive around 1,500 tourists during peak season like this MassKara Festival month, she said, adding but the number is expected to decrease following reports of cancelled bookings.
Tourist operators have also requested Mansinares to issue a statement assuring that the province is still safe and the accident that happened earlier was not intended to affect visiting foreigners in Negros Occidental.
“A threat has occurred that affected the influx of tourist visiting the province,” Mansinares said, but she added that she is hopeful for the domestic tourists to still visit cities and towns outside Bacolod City.
She also said that they are still waiting for the reports from Cauayan and Sipalay on how many have already cancelled and cut-short their visits in the areas.
Mansinares added that she hopes that the threat will not extend until the next year to ensure that Negros will still accommodate visiting foreign and domestic tourists. * MLG
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