DEPARTMENT of Tourism (DOT) 7 Director Rowena Montecillo remains firm that an accident involving three Korean divers will not affect the influx of Korean tourists in Central Visayas.
In an interview on Saturday, Montecillo said Cebu and the rest of Visayas remains “practically safe” to tourists, especially when compared to Manila and some areas in Mindanao.
“Anything can affect tourism as long as it is our own doing,” the DOT 7 Director said, referring to any acts under the control of the government or private tourism stakeholders.
“But remember, that was their decision, and I’m not blaming them. What we know right now is that they were told,” Montecillo said.
Last week, one of the three Korean divers, 45-year-old Heo Seung Yung, was found lifeless off Camotes Island. Together with him during a diving activity were Kim Eun, 31, and diving instructor Baek Seung Kyoon, 34, who were found alive in the same area.
The divers were reported missing around 3 p.m. last week, a few hours after they left a resort in Punta Engano in Lapu-Lapu City at around 11 a.m.
Likewise, Montecillo said the incidents involving the misfortunes of some tourists in Cebu will not bring significant losses to Cebu’s tourism landscape.
“There might be some incidents, involving personal stories, but that’s not what the majority of our tourists (are experiencing),” the official said.
Tourist arrivals for the first half of 2015 in Central Visayas are not yet available, but Koreans have consistently been the top foreign tourists in the region in the previous years, which national figures also reveal.
Latest data on hand by DOT 7 is for January to April 2015, which recorded a 9.63 percent increase in tourist arrivals versus the same period of 2014. This is equivalent to 1.5 million local and foreign tourists from the 1.3 million recorded previously.
Koreans remain the top foreign visitors in the region for the period.
The director said the agency is still completing its May to June data. She will also meet with tourism officers on Tuesday to discuss the matter.
In addition, Montecillo said DOT is looking at new markets, especially the Japanese, the second largest group of foreign visitors in the region. They are followed by Americans, Australians, Chinese, and visitors from UK, Canada, Taiwan, Germany and Hong Kong.