Terrorist attacks have been causing a major strain in the country’s tourism industry. It has been weeks since the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao and foreign travelers especially from South Korea and Japan have been cancelling trips to Manila and Cebu.
Cebu Pacific Airways (CEB) and Flag carriers Philippine Airlines (PAL) confirmed cancel bookings on scheduled flights from South Korea and Japan to Manila and Cebu. As of May 27, Be Grand Resort Bohol also had a total of 53 room cancellations equivalent to 94 nights.
The two hotels in Cebu, Crimson Resort and Spa Mactan and Quest Cebu also received requests for cancellations mostly from Koreans and Japanese with a total of 1.5 million worth of booking. However, when they explained how far Mindanao is from Cebu, only 5% to 10% of those who requested cancellations opted to postpone their trips.
Meanwhile, Limketkai Luxe Hotel one of the biggest hotels in Cagayan de Oro lost some 4.1 million in individual bookings and cancellations of events and functions due to the terror threats. Jerome dela Fuente, the manager of the said hotel stated that they have lost 2.6 million in the bookings and 1.5 million in the functions and events. Supposedly, the whole month of June will be fully booked but due to some circumstances the whole June is empty.
According to Tourism Assistant Secretary and Spokesman Frederick M. Alegre, those cancellations were already expected to happen, but they are still continuing to monitor the situation and have asked the regional directors to keep tourists safe.
In the World Forum’s (WEF) Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index 2017, the Philippines slid five places to the 79th spot out of 136 countries. Philippines got and overall score of 3.6 and of the pillars consider it was on the security and safety that the country got its lowest rank. It landed at the 126th place bottom end of the spectrum.
The country has been subject of several travel advisories following the clashes between the government troops and Mautee group in Marawi City, as well as the clash between the government troops and the Abu Sayyaf in Bohol last month.
In the first two months of the year, around 1.2 million foreign visitors arrived in the country, 10.88% from the same period last year. Koreans still continue to be the top visitor market, accounting for 25.2 % of the total arrivals for the period while there have been 8.7 % of the total volume for the Japanese visitors.
President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23, after the government troops clashed with the local rebel group known as Maute group. The military and police operation aims to capture Isnilon Hapilon, head of the Abu Sayyaf Group.
The effect is felt immediately among tourists and foreign investors. This incident gives the impression that the country is no longer unstable, politically immature, or incapable of solving the problems because of weak institutions.
Thus, Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo said that that these travel advisories made it hard for the Department of Tourism to promote the Philippines as a tourist destination. However, they are also stepping up to continuously promote the country as a safe travel destination.