Scarborough Shoal disputes: Chinese travel agents suspend tours to the Philippines

China’s news outlets report that Chinese travel agencies are suspending or rescheduling summer trips and tours to the Philippines, due to recent tensions in the South China / West Philippine Seas.

Beijing travel agent Dun Jidong is quoted as saying “Safety is the prime concern in the travel business. We’ve learned there might be anti-China activities in the Philippines, which means a lot of uncertainty. To ensure the safety of our clients, we have suspended all tours to the Philippines. And we will monitor the situation as it develops.”

On Thursday, China’s National Tourism Administration website told Chinese tourists to avoid “unnecessary” travel to the Philippines and warned those who are already there to be mindful of their security.

Anti-China protesters carry placards and shout slogans in front of the Chinese embassy in Makati City on Friday. PHOTO BY RENE DILAN

Excerpt from a Manila Times report:

Maria Victoria Jasmin, DOT undersecretary, said that as of Thursday, 10 tour operators from Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou have cancelled flights to the Philippines…

The DOT said that China ranks fourth in the country’s top tourist market and had an 8.4-percent share in the total visitor arrivals for the January to March, 2012 period or over 96,455 tourists.

Last year, at least 243,137 Chinese tourists visited the Philippines, making up 6.21 percent of the total tourist arrivals.

The Philippine Travel Agency Association earlier said that the country’s top three markets are Korea, the United States and Japan.

During a press briefing, Philippine Malacanang Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said “We are going to certainly assure our Chinese friends of their safety”.

He added “Sa totoo lang, ang dami naman nating mga Chinese dito (the fact is, there are so many Chinese here). You would not know if they are from the mainland or from the Philippines. We have very good relations in terms of cultural exchange and our relations with China have been very good on a cultural level, on a familial level. So there is no reason for our Chinese friends and the Chinese Embassy to worry about the safety of their nationals”.