Cebu travel operators to respect ‘temporary’ ban of Chinese entry

Photo by Allan Cuizon

THE Cebu Alliance of Tour Operations Specialists (Catos) will respect the decision of government to restrict the entry of Chinese tourists on the confidence that it is only temporary as experience has shown.

Catos president Alice Queblatin told SunStar Cebu that arrivals will resume after the threat and scare of the novel coronavirus is lifted or diminished.

“If the officials of the city or the national government, with well-informed decisions, will restrict the entry of Chinese tourists, we will respect that. Anyway, we believe that the decrease of arrivals is only temporary just like we have experienced,” she said.

“Even listening to the Chinese who were interviewed in the airport, on how the severe airport security was, they said it’s all right because it’s for the safety of everybody,” she said.

The citizens, she said, take precedence over any numbers in tourism.

China-Cebu flights

China has the most number of international flights to Cebu.

It has direct connections to 12 cities in the mainland such as Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Wuxi, Hangzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Xiamen, Fuzhou, Kunming, Chongquing and Wenzhou.

In 2018, China was the second top foreign source market in Central Visayas with 621,993 tourists, a 44.28-percent growth from 2017’s 429,306 tourists.

As for tour cancellations, no Catos member has reported of any, Queblatin said.

The Lunar New Year celebration, a big event in China, on Jan. 25, 2020, was subdued because of travel restrictions.

The new novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) prompted the Philippine Bureau of Immigration to deny visa-upon-arrival by tour groups from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the virus.

Scientists believed the new strain of coronavirus, with symptoms like colds, cough, breathing difficulty and pneumonia, came from snakes and bats.

The Philippines continues to be free from the 2019-nCoV, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported as the virus has a total of 1,320 confirmed cases globally.

LGU power

Meanwhile, an official of the Department of Interior and Local Government(DILG) said there is no legal impediment for mayors to ban Chinese tourists from entering a city if deemed necessary, Lawyer Ian Kenneth Lucero, DILG-Cebu City officer-in-charge, said the general welfare clause, under the Local Government Code of 1991, cites the delegation in statutory form of the police power of the state to the local government units (LGUs).

“Each LGU shall exercise powers which are essential to the promotion of the general welfare. Within their respective territorial jurisdictions, LGUs shall promote health and safety, among others,” he said in a text message sent to SunStar Cebu, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020.

“The interest of the public requires the interference of the government. This is treated as an absolute obligation on the part of the government to perform,” he added.

As the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCov) continues its spread from China, Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella, on Saturday, declared that if the entry of Chinese tourists threatens Cebu City residents, he will not hesitate to ban them.

Labella earlier said he will coordinate with the health agencies and wait for their recommendations, so he will know what actions to take.

The mayor made the clarification following the publication of an article by a Cebu news outlet where he allegedly said, “There will be no ban of tourists from China.”

Back to Wuhan

In a separate development, Eric Apolonio, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) spokesperson told SunStar Cebu in a text message yesterday that the last flight for the last batch of 464 Chinese from Kalibu, Aklan to Wuhan, China was on Saturday.

The Chinese arrived in Kalibu via charter flight.

As initially scheduled, the remaining Chinese are to be sent back to China today, Jan. 27.

The Associated Press reported Saturday night that 2019-nCoV which originated in Wuhan, China, has killed 56 people and infected nearly 2,000, including the 62-year-old doctor Liang Wudong, doctor at Hubei Xinhua Hospital. (JOB, WBS)


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