2010/09/06

Chinese scrap Philippine trips after hijacking: report

BEIJING, September  6, 2010 (AFP) - Travellers from Hong Kong and mainland China have cancelled more than 1,000 Philippine package tours after eight Hong Kong tourists were killed in a bus hijacking in Manila, state media said Monday.

The Philippine tourism industry could suffer resulting losses of hundreds of thousands of dollars over the next three months, the China Daily reported, citing Philippine Department of Tourism Under-Secretary Simeon P. Marfori.

It said Marfori was speaking at an international travel forum in southern China.

Hong Kong tourists accounted for one in ten of all inbound tourists to the Philippines while Chinese tourists represented the highest growth market of visitors to the country, Marfori said. The report provided no other figures.

On August 23, a disgruntled former policeman commandeered a bus carrying 25 Hong Kong tourists in a bid to win his job back.

Eight of the tourists died during a botched police rescue bid that also left the hostage-taker dead.
On the following day, China's National Tourism Administration urged its citizens travelling to the Philippines to exercise caution.

The administration did not immediately respond to an AFP request for comment on Monday.

A Shanghai-based customer service representative at China International Travel Service (CITS), who declined to be named, said the travel agency stopped offering group tours to the Philippines after the hijacking.

"People were scared. No one wants to go there. Service will resume only after the impact of the hostage incident subsides," she told AFP.

She added CITS would offer no package tours to the southeast Asian country during the National Day holiday in October, a peak season for Chinese tourism.