A comprehensive plan to suppress terrorist threats is needed to sustain the tourism industry which is considered as the “bread and butter” of the local economy.
Tourism Regional Director Shalimar Tamano said he was concerned about the effect of the travel advisory issued by the United Kingdom that cautioned their citizens from visiting the southern part of Cebu and other parts of the country, Tamano said he is working closely with security and law enforcement officials in the region in order to address the security concerns of both the foreign and local tourists.
“We are closely working with our security officials. In fact with the help of our main office, we will be conducting a security training weeks from now to discuss the efforts that we can exert to ensure our tourist’ safety,” Tamano told Cebu Daily News.
However, with the report of the arrest of a suspected member of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Carcar City, Cebu Gov. Agnes Magpale took back her earlier statement that there was no terrorist threat in Cebu.
“I said before that it is unfair (to issue a travel advisory for Cebu) and I take back my words,” Magpale said.
She however expressed hope that the British government would change their negative impression of Cebu.
“I am still hoping that the UK will withdraw their advisory. Nadakpan na man. (The suspected Abu Sayyaf member has already been arrested),” she added.
Provincial Tourism Officer Joselito Costas said any threat is a cause for concern for both local residents and visitors.
“We therefore call on our local communities and authorities to remain vigilant and report to the proper authorities any suspicious activities or persons,” said Costas.
The security trainings being planned by the DOT will be called Protect and Prepare and will be participated in by representatives of the local government units (LGUs), Emergency Response Teams, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).
On September 10 and 11, Tamano said they will be giving a counter-terrorism awareness course to stakeholders. “We have planned this for a long time. We only waited for our security officials’ input because they are the ones who really know what to do and how to prepare for these things,” said Tamano.
“Tourism and security are two universes that have varied stakeholders. But we need to understand that these two universes need to meet in order for the industry to strive,” Tamano added.
Meanwhile, Tamano urged local government units to monitor tourism operators in their localities following the incident at a resort in Oslob town that injured four Chinese nationals.
“If we do not arrest this kind of tendency to be lax in our safety procedure, visitors will just be going to other places,” Tamano said.
The four Chinese nationals sustained wounds and fractures after the wooden lift that carried them in going down a cliff collapsed. /With Correspondent Jessa Mae O. Sotto
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