LOCAL tourism executives are disappointed over the effects of the Manila hostage crisis to local tourism.

Baguio Tourism Council chair Anthony de Leon said he and other tourism stakeholders are concerned about the impact of this incident to the local and national tourism industry.

Post your reaction to the Manila hostage crisis

“We will have to work closely with the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Tourism Congress to counter the bad publicity and come up with a policy which will not jeopardize tourists in the future,” de Leon said.

Concerned with the incident’s impact on the local tourism industry, de Leon said the Tourism Congress expects other foreign countries to follow suit.

“We urge government to put in place crisis public relations management mechanisms precisely because we have not addressed this properly in the past to the detriment of our tourism stakeholders,” a statement from the Tourism Congress said.

The Tourism Congress is a 65-member private sector consultative body mandated by Tourism Act of 2009 to assist government in the development, implementation and coordination of Philippine Tourism Policy. 

“Here in the local scene, HRAB (Hotel and Restaurant Association of Baguio) and BCVB (Baguio Convention and Visitors Bureau) will continue to work on activities, which will drive the image of Baguio better to domestic tourists and hopefully foreign visitors as we usually experience visits from them at the last quarter of the year,” de Leon added.

Meanwhile, Department of Tourism-Cordillera Administrative Region Director Purificacion Molintas said the immediate action of the DOT is to join in sympathizing with the death of the Hong Kong tourists and their families.

Molintas, who was in Manila to join Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim in the vigil set by the agency for the victims, said this will have a big impact in the north Luzon tourism cluster, which she currently heads.

The north Luzon cluster, composed of Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon and Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), she said has been suffering flight and travel cancellations recently because of the incident.

“In Laoag and Clark alone, we are expecting the cancellation of many flights because many tourists arriving are from Hong Kong,” Molintas said.

“Because of the travel ban, [the] Laoag International Airport [which] regularly accommodates more than 1,000 tourists every month from nearby Hong Kong will surely be affected,” she added.

Many tourists from foreign countries and aliens residing in the city are also worried about their safety.

Baguio City Police Office Assistant Director for Operations, Supt. Andrew Cayad, said the city force is likewise prepared for similar situations although they have insufficient logistics and equipment.

He assured foreigners that they have been roving regularly to give tourists security through their tourist-oriented policing system.

Last year, Baguio City was hailed by the DOT as the third top tourist destination in the country based on both domestic and foreign tourists arrivals. (JM Agreda)