Industry leaders: Tourist arrivals may drop
Ehda Dagooc (The Freeman) - November 25, 2015 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Local tourism leaders have expressed concern over a possible decline in the arrival of tourists here following the advisory of the United States on possible risks of travel owing to increased terrorist threats after the Paris attacks.

"These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics, using conventional and non-conventional weapons and targeting both official and private interests," CNN quoted the US State Department.

While the US did not instruct Americans to avoid travel, it urges them to "exercise vigilance when in public places or using transportation." The alert expires on February 24, 2016.

"Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid large crowds or crowded places. Exercise particular caution during the holiday season and at holiday festivals or events," the State Department said in the alert.

Here in Cebu where tourism plays a major role in economic growth, businessman Jay Aldeguer says the alert may have the potential to “create tension” in the travel industry.

“The incident in Paris alone was enough to threaten travelers, to leave home," he said.

Americans rank third in the number of foreign tourists that visit Central Visayas this year, following Koreans and Japanese.

Aldeguer said it helps that the recently concluded Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit was carried out successfully and peacefully.  

“The holding of APEC was helpful in the sense that world leaders converged in the Philippines with no incident whatsoever," Aldeguer said.

Julie Najar, president of the Hotel, Resorts, and Restaurants Association of Cebu (HRRAC), said the effect of terrorism on tourism depends largely on the resiliency of a destination.

"Does it change the views of tourism? At first (hand) I guess, but that is where the resiliency of the people and the quick response of the local government count. Look at Thailand that keeps getting up on its feet regardless of natural calamities or acts of terrorism," Najar said.

Cebu Business Club (CBC) President Gordon Alan Joseph said it is important that the Philippines or Cebu in particular would ensure that it is in control.

Most of Americans who visit the country are either businessmen or balikbayans.

"They will keep on coming but we do need to show them and the world that we are in control of our security," Joseph said.

He agrees that the possible reduction in tourist arrivals would just be short term. 

Information reportedly suggests that ISIL (a.k.a. Da’esh), al-Qa’ida, Boko Haram, and other terrorist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks in multiple regions.

Extremists have targeted large sporting events, theatres, open markets, and aviation services. In the past year, there have been multiple attacks in France, Nigeria, Denmark, Turkey, and Mali. ISIL/Da’esh has claimed responsibility for the bombing of a Russian airliner in Egypt.

Tourism

Based on data from the Department of Tourism-7, visitor arrivals in January-February period in the whole Central Visayas, which comprises Negros Oriental, Bohol, Siquijor and Cebu posted a 10.52 percent rise from 654,109 in 2014 to 722,937 this year.

The market share of foreign tourists for the region's tourism sector was 49.46 percent, nearing the 50.02 percent share of the domestic visitors.

Koreans still accounted almost half of the foreign market at 45.40 percent, followed by Japan (17.68 percent), USA (10.02 percent), China (4.57 percent), Australia (3.82 percent) and Canada (2.60 percent).

Last year, tourist arrivals in CV went up 16 percent to 4.03 million from 3.5 million in 2013, hitting its 3.6 million 2014 target.

Cebu in particular logged 550,452 tourists during the January-February 2015 period, up 8.54 percent from 507,162 in the same period last year.

Cebu City recorded majority of the domestic arrivals at 75 percent, followed by Lapu-Lapu City (15 percent), Cebu Province (seven percent) and Mandaue City (three percent). —/JMO (FREEMAN)

ACIRC ALDEGUER ASIA-PACIFIC ECONOMIC COOPERATION BOKO HARAM CEBU CEBU BUSINESS CLUB CEBU CITY CENTRAL VISAYAS PERCENT QUOT STATE DEPARTMENT
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