By Macon Araneta i FilAm Star Correspondent
Sen. Nancy Binay on January 3 urged the Department of Tourism to implement measures that will counter the anticipated fall-out from advisories issued by the United Kingdom and Australia warning the countries’ nationals from traveling to Mindanao.
Binay, who heads the Senate’s Committee on Tourism, said the DoT should update Philippine travel guides to correct the negative impression of local destinations in Mindanao.
A New Year’s Eve bombing in Cotabato City that killed two persons and wounded 35 others prompted the travel warning.
“Dapat magdoble-kayod ang DOT sa pag-counter ng negative publicity na resulta ng mga travel advisory,” said Binay.
She also urged the police and military to help ensure that accurate reports on the security situation in localities are provided to the embassies of other countries.
“Of course, we have to respect these countries’ prerogatives in issuing advisories out of concern for their citizens. There are times, though, that these advisories are unnecessary and sometimes exaggerated,” the Senator said.
However, she conceded that the burden lies in the Philippine government in convincing tourists that the country is a safe environment and their welfare is a top priority.
Close coordination with embassies, particularly in rectifying inaccurate reports and in updating peace and order measures, among others, should be undertaken, Binay said.
She cited the need for constant dialogues with other countries.
“If we can, maybe let’s use mediators, their own nationals who are happy and satisfied tourists in our country to help dispel their misconceptions,” she added.
These mediators could also be tapped for social media, where issues could easily snowball and become unmanageable, according to the legislator.