APART from some booking cancellations, the hospitality sector of Cebu has remained relatively unaffected by the peace and order concerns in the country.
A top official of the Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu (Hrrac) said if there were booking cancellations, these were minor travel suspensions only, about five to 10 percent a week after President Duterte’s declaration of Martial Law.
"I haven't received reports of major cancellations from our members. So far, tourists have kept on coming," said Hrrac president Carlo Suarez. "If there were cancellations, these were minimal and from the Free Independent Traveler (FIT) market."
Suarez, in the past, noted that if peace and order were not immediately restored, reduction in tourist numbers was most likely in the coming months. But yesterday, he said the accommodation sector was doing well so far.
Tourism players expect cancellations as a result of the May 23 Martial Law declaration in Mindanao following skirmishes between government troops and members of the local terrorist group Maute in Marawi City in Lanao del Sur.
The Resorts World Manila attack on June 2 further added to the security fears; however, it was later ruled out not to be a terrorist attack but an isolated case of a gambling addict, Jessie Javier Carlos, going berserk and committing arson.
Local resort player Plantation Bay Resort and Spa reported a good performance for the first half of the year.
The resort's general manager, Efren Belarmino, reported though that there were postponements of bookings, especially from the Korean FIT markets, but these were minimal and offset by the local market.
"In fact, we had plenty of last-minute bookings from the local market last weekend because of the long holiday," said Belarmino.
The Philippines celebrated Independence Day last Monday.
Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa likewise reported booking cancellations from various nationalities due to the Marawi crisis.
The resort's director of sales and marketing Myra Abelido-Regner is thankful, though, that they have stopped getting cancellations recently. The resort logged an average 85 percent occupancy from January to June.
The Department of Tourism (DOT) has already reported travel cancellations to Mindanao from Korea and the USA. Foreign embassies issued travel warnings after the June 2 Resorts World Manila attack.
Top officials of the DOT's Promotions Board went to South Korea to conduct “fact-finding” meetings with Korean travel executives and Seoul-based media amid security issues confronting international tourism.
South Korea remains the top tourist market for the Philippines, accounting for 24.72 percent of the 5.9 million tourist arrivals in 2016.
DOT Assistant Secretary Ricky Alegre pointed out that the isolated incident of peace disturbance in Marawi City was immediately placed under control, and should not in any way deter foreigners’ trips to the Philippines.
Korean Ambassador Kim Young-sun of the Asean-Korea Centre, shared the DOT officials’ optimism about continued travel of Koreans to the Philippines.
"The Philippines is close to Koreans, and we will continue to explore cooperation and tourism exchange,” said Young-sun in a statement.
The DOT seeks to attract eight million visitors this year.
To provide a fresher take on the country's image, the DOT unveiled its newest campaign entitled "Sights," which featured blind Japanese retiree M. Uchimura, who enjoyed his stay in Pangasinan, Ifugao, Paoay Sand Dunes in Paoay, Ilocos Norte and Calle Crisologo in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur. The campaign was released amid the challenges the country has been facing.
"We are shifting our focus in our promotional campaigns toward the unique experiences that each destination could offer, Filipino hospitality, and security," said Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon Teo.