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Philippine tourism chief on goodwill visit in HK

December 16, 2010 - Tonyo Cruz

Months after the horrific hostage-taking incident in Manila, Philippine tourism secretary Alberto Lim today met with Hong Kong chief executive Donald Tsang as a part of a “goodwill mission” whose main message is that the Philippines is taking measures to ensure tourist safety.

Lim’s Hong Kong visit immediately follows his confirmation by the Commission on Appointments as secretary of the Department of Tourism, one of the first members of President Benigno Aquino III’s to have passed scrutiny by Congress.

According to the Philippine consulate-general in Hong Kong:

During a 20-minute meeting Thursday morning, Secretary Lim reiterated to the Chief Executive the condolences of President Aquino to the families of the victims and the people of Hong Kong over the August 23 hostage-taking at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila, saying that the incident was a very unfortunate event. “We feel the pain of the Hongkong people and the affected families” over the incident, he said.

Secretary Lim apprised the Chief Executive of the measures undertaken by the Philippine government after the incident.

 “As head of the Philippines’ Tourism Department, it is my responsibility to help ensure that the country has a conducive and safe environment for foreign visitors. We have undertaken steps in order that the security of local and foreign tourists will be more assiduously safeguarded and that such a tragedy will not happen again,” he explained.

These include the National Tourist-Oriented Police for Community Order and Protection (TOP-COP) program launched by the Department of Tourism and the Philippine National Police (PNP) last Monday.  This led to the deployment of “tourist police” in the country’s major tourism destinations.

Secretary Lim updated the Chief Executive on the administrative and criminal charges filed against police and local government officials identified in the report made by the Incident Investigation and Review Committee (IIRC), and on the institutional reforms being studied by the IIRC for its second report. He also assured the Chief Executive that the Philippines will cooperate with the Coroner’s Court proceedings in February, in accordance with established practices on mutual legal assistance.

Earlier this week, Manila welcomed a clarification made by Hong Kong on its travel notice to its residents.

Manila has not published new, updated information on tourist arrivals but many expect that the number of tourists from Hong Kong may have gone down due to the hostage-taking incident. Visitors from East Asia – which includes China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong – comprise a big chunk of total tourist arrivals in the Philippines in the previous years.

Lim, who was a leader of the influential Makati Business Club prior to joining the Aquino cabinet, recently figured in a controversy over a new official logo for the Philippines’ tourism efforts. He openly backed the much-criticized “Pilipinas Kay Ganda” logo and slogan. One of his undersecretaries and Aquino’s new media chief during the presidential campaign, Enteng Romano, resigned in face of fierce criticisms.

 

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