Boracay takes hit from hostage fiasco

Posted at 08/30/2010 5:31 PM | Updated as of 08/31/2010 1:21 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Tourism in famous destination Boracay Island is feeling the effect of the deadly hostage-taking in Manila last week as airlines and hotels continue to report a wave of booking cancellations.

The Boracay Foundation Inc., an organization of hotel managers and owners, has reported revenue losses of P5 million to P7 million per day due to cancellations since Monday's 11-hour hostage-taking that ended in the death of 8 Hong Kong tourists.

The group's president, Henry Chusuey, said the government should put in place public relations mechanisms to lure back foreign tourists in the country.

"The losses of the tourism industry are becoming bigger and bigger everyday. It does not only affect the hotel industry, it also affects the restaurants, all aspects, including the malls, everything. I think the president should do something quickly now."

Chusuey said many businesses in Boracay are offering discounts while some resort owners are asking airlines to bring down fares to encourage domestic tourists to travel.

Ramon Perez, general manager of La Carmela de Boracay Resort, is worried that foreigners from the United States and Europe may also cancel plans to visit the country after Hong Kong, China and other Asian peers issued travel warnings against the Philippines.

"Ang kinatatakutan lang natin diyan ay baka magka-domino effect sa ibang foreigners like from States and Europe as well."

Last Thursday, flag carrier Philippine Airlines said more than 500 tourists from Hong Kong and mainland China called off their reservations while budget carrier Cebu Pacific reported that 2% of passengers for its Hong Kong routes have rebooked or canceled their flights.

As airlines and hotels reported the cancellations, the Department of Tourism (DoT) admitted that the government might not meet its target of doubling tourist arrivals this year.

According to the DoT, East Asia -- composed of China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and Taiwan -- is the Philippines' major source of foreign visitors.

Data in the DoT website showed that from January to May this year, a total of 33,395 tourists from Hong Kong visited the Philippines, 14.43% higher than the 29,185 reported in the same period in 2009.

Of the number, about half or 13,775 went to the capital, Manila.