Philippine tourism ends Hong Kong push after hostage deaths

09:49, September 20, 2010      

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The Philippines has announced it will stop marketing its tourist attractions to Hong Kong, as the key market is considered lost after a hostage-taking fiasco left eight Hongkongers dead.

  Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim said the government would instead focus its marketing efforts on other countries to hit the target of 3.3 million arrivals this year, from just over 3 million in 2009.

  Hong Kong issued an alert warning against all visits to the Philippines after a sacked police officer hijacked a tourist bus in Manila, killing eight Hong Kong visitors as police botched a rescue attempt.

  The August 23 bloodbath outraged Chinese mainland and Hong Kong residents, prompting many prospective visitors to cancel. Some travelers already in the country left abruptly before their tours were completed.

  It was a huge loss, with Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland accounting for 9 percent of tourist arrivals in the Philippines, according to the tourism department.

  New President Benigno Aquino has labeled tourism, currently seen as performing well below its full potential, with visitor arrivals at just a fraction of the traffic seen in nearby countries, as a key economic growth driver.

  To mollify foreign governments, Aquino named a high-level panel to investigate the bloodbath and look into whom might be culpable.

  Aquino began studying a report Friday that called for charges to be laid against those behind the fiasco.

  The government will brief the press today about the next steps to be taken, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.

  "A copy of the report will be handed over soon to the Chinese side through diplomatic channels," the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said Sunday, without giving a timeframe.

  Lim said the promised delivery of the report to Hong Kong and Chinese mainland authorities would help soothe the anger against the Philippines.

  The tourism ministry hopes public anger over the incident will have passed by December, the peak season for tourists arriving from Hong Kong, and which extends to the Chinese Lunar New Year in February.

  "We should emphasize other markets to make sure there are replacements," Lim said.

Source: Global Times

(Editor:黄蓓蓓)

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