Philippine tourism hurt by EU airline ban


Manila – The European Union’s decision to ban Philippine carriers from flying into the 27-nation bloc’s airspace has adversely impacted the country’s tourism industry, a senior official said.

In response to the EU’s vote of no confidence in Philippine air safety, European insurance companies have stopped covering travellers for even domestic air travel in the South-East Asian country, its Department of Tourism said.

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And without insurance for their clients, ‘major European travel operators from Germany, the United Kingdom and France have regretfully informed us of their booking cancellations,’ Philippine Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano said.

‘The entire [tourism] industry is affected as European arrivals account for a significant percentage of our target in the first quarter,’ he added.

The EU banned Philippine airlines at the end of March as a precautionary measure after the US Federal Aviation Administration downgraded the Philippines’ safety rating.

The airlines themselves are not directly affected because no Philippine carrier has flown to or from EU airports since 1999.

But most trips to the Philippines include a domestic air transfer from Manila to one of the tourist spots.

Durano said most of the cancelled package tours from Europe were scheduled for April to August.

‘The longer we remain in the blacklist, the harder it would be for us to recover from these significant losses,’ he said.

Data from the Department of Tourism showed that visitor arrivals from Europe in January, before the ban, posted 11-per-cent growth from the same period last year.

Alfonso Cusi, director general of the Civil Aviation Authority in the Philippines, stressed that the country’s carriers were safe and met international safety standards.

Cusi invited representatives from the EU Safety Aviation Commission to visit the Philippines in May to inspect efforts to improve air travel safety.