Immigration head blocks Korean tourists’ visit

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Friday, January 11, 2013


THE Department of Tourism has been widely promoting the Philippines as a tourist destination, anchored on a catchy tourism tagline "It's more fun in the Philippines."

However, not all is fun now because the 1,700 Korean tourists who are eager to visit Bacolod and Negros Occidental and who are scheduled to land at the Bacolod Silay airport via nine chartered flights were not allowed to come.

Due to some equipment and personnel constraint, Immigration Commissioner Ricardo David Jr. denied several times the requests and ceaseless prodding of Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia and City Administrator Atty. John N. Orola Jr. on the matter.

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Orola has brought the matter to the information and intervention of Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr., as the policy of the Bureau of Immigration is not consistent with the pronouncement of President Benigno Aquino III and the DOT’s program “It’s More Fun in the Philippines.”

“David is not at all cooperative in making things easier for the implementation of the government’s tourism program, although two Commissioners have favorably endorsed the Mayor’s appeal,” Orola said.

He said Koreans still topped the number of tourist arrivals in Bacolod with a total of 49,673 in 2011 alone.

“Overall, not only Bacolod here is concerned but this is Philippine tourism. We need a system or bureaucracy that will facilitate instead of block or give us problems,” Leonardia said.

He said how they wish they had officials who are directed towards accommodating these possible opportunities instead of being myopic about these matters.

“I hope our officials should have a ready plan of action to respond to this kind of situation because an opportunity may not come again, or we might turn off possible golf tourism investors to our city or province,” Leonardia added.

He added that there is no need to have Bacolod-Silay Airport declared as an international airport because it has the same status with that of Aklan and Iloilo International Airport.

He said the local governments of Negros Occidental are one in working hard together in boosting the tourism industry of the province as an alternative or to complement the sugar industry.

He said the sugar industry is expected to encounter serious competition from imported sugar in 2015 when the tariff protection that has long been enjoyed by the local sugar industry is finally reduced to zero, as mandated by the international trade agreements entered into by the Philippines.

All these ended with only three chartered flights allowed to come to Bacolod since yesterday until Febreuary 7.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on January 11, 2013.

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