Travel advisory has minimal effect on room bookings: HRRACI

THE Hotel, Resort, and Restaurant Association of Cebu Inc. (HRRACI), a newly-accredited association, assured that tourism in Cebu has not been affected by the travel advisory released by the British Government last Aug. 14.

During the accreditation hearing last Monday, Carlo Suarez, HRRACI president, said they’ll remind all their members to take safety and security measures seriously.

In a phone interview, Suarez said that they also reached out to the security association of hotels and resorts to remind them about the current peace and order situation.

There have been minor cancellations and several complaints from tourists due to the advisory, but bookings are still high, he said.

During the Provincial Board’s regular session last Monday, Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale said that it’s the government’s main responsiblity to respond to the issue.

She said the government should be the one to primarily take action on security matters in the country.

The advisory made by the British Government contained a warning to its nationals against traveling to Palawan because of a heightened risk of kidnapping. It also discouraged its citizens from traveling to southern Cebu, including Badian and Dalaguete, due to the threat of terrorism.

Aside from focusing on security measures, HRRACI will also focus on environment-related practices of various resorts, hotels and restaurants.

Police Regional Office 7 Director Debold Sinas, for his part, assured the public that security measures are in place in southern Cebu and other parts of the region with the help of the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Central Command.

He said they often receive reports from other intelligence units, including the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency.

“We are doing our best to thwart terroristic activities,” he said.

However, Sinas described the arrest of a suspected Abu Sayyaf member in Carcar City, Cebu as alarming.

Last Thursday, Oger Omar Pelonio, 69, was caught in a raid in his residence in Barangay Ocaña. Allegedly seized from him were two .45 pistols with live bullets, a loaded Ingram submachine pistol, a .38 revolver with bullets, a hand grenade, two rifle grenades, bomb-making materials, religious materials, eight aerial maps, a printed sketch of a bomb, cellphones and a pocket Wifi.

Sinas said the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group 7 is still checking Pelonio’s connections for possible police operations in the future.

He said they managed to obtain information from Pelonio, but did not elaborate as it might hamper their investigation.

Complaints of illegal possession of firearms, ammunition and explosives have been filed against the suspect, who was not allowed to post bail.

Pelonio continues to deny that he is a terrorist, saying he once served in the arm is too old with illnesses to be involved in terrorism. (JERRA MAE LIBREA, USJ-R INTERN , KAL)


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