MANILA, Philippines – Chinaese ambassador to the Philippines said today that more tourists from mainland China and Hong Kong would visit if RP government could guarantee their safety and security.
Xinhua reports that Ambassador Liu Jianchao said over 50 million tourists on the Chinese mainland have travelled abroad, and the Philippines, with its scenic beaches and rich and diverse natural marine life, can tap the growing Chinese tourist market.
“I believe that the Philippine government will take measures to convince the tourists from China including Hong Kong that this is a safe country to travel to, and when they are here, they will be well protected,” Liu said in his keynote speech at a Makati business forum today.
On Aug. 23, a dismissed Philippine police officer hijacked a tour bus carrying 25 people, including 21 tourists from Hong Kong, in an attempt to get his job back.
The 11-hour hostage drama ended in a bloody carnage, killing eight Hong Kong tourists and the lone hostage taker in a bungled police rescue.
The government and the Philippine National Police’s handling of the incident has drawn flak from the international community particularly from Hong Kong. The media’s live coverage of the incident was also heavily criticized.
Hong Kong immediately issued a top-level “black” travel alert for the Philippines. Many prospective visitors canceled their trips to the country. Some tourists already in the country left abruptly before their tours were completed.
It was a huge loss, with Hong Kong and China’s mainland accounting for 9 percent of tourist arrivals in the Philippines, according to the Tourism department. The Philippines lost about P40 million in tourist income in the first two weeks after the hijacking.
Last year, more than 220,000 tourists from the Chinese mainland visited the Philippines, registering a nearly 40 percent growth over the year of 2008, Liu said.