Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Philippines Tourism suffers from aviation ban
When Philippine carriers were banned from flying to Europe earlier this year, the country’s officials sounded downright nonchalant. After all, it was in 1999 when Philippine Airlines had launched its last commercial flight to Europe. Officials evidently thought that the ban imposed by the European Commission (EC) was, well, no big deal. In fact, the EC’s decision to ban PAL and all other carriers from the Philippines has prompted European travel insurance companies to discontinue coverage for Philippine destinations.
It was bad enough that Europeans have to make several stopovers just to be able to board a flight to the Philippines. The lack of insurance coverage became yet another disincentive for them to venture to our islands. Seven months after the EC ban took effect, its dire consequences on the country’s travel and tourism businesses are now being felt. The fourth quarter is traditionally the time of the year when visitors from the wintry Northern Hemisphere begin to flock to tropical destinations, such as the Philippines. Various tourism-oriented industries are beginning to report a disturbing drop in business not only in his island-province, but many other parts of the Philippines as well .Bohol’s beach resorts on Panglao Island, as well as the dive sites around Balicasag and Pamilacan Islands, should be teeming with Europeans this time of the year.Lately, however, arrivals from Europe have slowed to a trickle.
According to published reports, the government’s lax enforcement of aviation safety rules was what prompted the EC to ban Philippine carriers from flying to the 27 member states of the European Union (EU).Soon after the ban was announced last April, aviation officials promised to speed up reforms even as they argued that Philippine carriers have consistently met safety standards.The EC had placed all Philippine carriers, as well as those from Sudan, on a watch list of countries banned from flying to the 27-nation EU.The ICAO raised significant safety concerns after it carried out an audit on Philippine carriers in November last year.Claims made by CAAP officials about improvements taken since the November audit, including the hiring of 47 technical personnel to oversee inspections have not erased European concerns.Notwithstanding the efforts being exerted by the Department of Tourism, Philippine Tourism Authority and other agencies to encourage visitors from overseas to come to our islands, Europeans have apparently decided that a trip to the Philippines is not worth all their anxiety.
Coupled with the fallout from the August 23 killing in Manila of eight tourists from Hong Kong, the EC ban has crippled Philippine tourism.
What is the administration of President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd doing about it?
More important, is P-Noy aware that such a problem exists?