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Travel agents maintain cautious Bohol itinerary

CEBU, Philippines - Although the Philippine National Police has already declared that the last of the Abu Sayyaf in Bohol had been killed, travel agents have remained cautious with the tourists’ itinerary packages.

"As of now we cannot be complacent that Bohol is really free from terrorists. Unless the government declares and the travel advisories are lifted, only then can we say that Bohol is really free from terrorist threats," said Cebu Association of Tour Operation Specialists (CATOS) past president Edilberto Mendoza Jr., in an interview yesterday.

Mendoza however, is confident that Bohol will easily recover from the ‘nightmare’ and that impressions of terrorist infiltration will soon be forgotten. But for now, it is still premature to declare the province totally safe from the threats.         

"After hearing of the deaths of the last two bandits, at least we can now be reassured that tourism will be slowly going back to normal in that part of the country," Mendoza said.

The two remaining Abu Sayyaf bandits in Bohol were killed on Monday, May 15, in a chase that followed their foiled attempt to take a resident hostage.

They were the last of the daring gang of 11 Abu Sayyaf bandits who escaped military operations in Sulu a month ago and planned to launch a Holy Week attack in Bohol, a world famous tourist destination.

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On the other hand, Mendoza said that foreign and domestic tourists are consistently picking other alternative destinations in Cebu such as Bantayan, Malapascua, Comotes, Moalboal, Oslob and others.

Department of Tourism (DOT-7) officer-in-charge Judy Gabato said that with the recent development, tourists are assured that the military forces in the country is on top of the over-all national security, not only in Bohol, but the entire country.

Mendoza reiterated that, while this is a good development for Bohol and the rest of the Philippines, lifting of travel bans from other countries could help in the fast recovery of tourist’s interest in Bohol and even some other parts of the Philippines. (FREEMAN)

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