PAL: Booking cancellations from HK, China increasing

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 26 2010 02:12 PM | Updated as of Aug 27 2010 01:25 AM

Hotels, tour agencies experience cancellations too

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) said Thursday that the number of booking cancellations from Hong Kong and China has started to balloon after the bloody hostage drama in Manila, where 8 Hong Kong tourists were killed.

The PAL said that as of Wednesday, a total of 558 Manila-bound bookings from Hong Kong and mainland China have been cancelled.

"PAL is beginning to feel the initial impact of a Hong Kong government advisory warning its residents to refrain from all travel to the Philippines," PAL president Jaime Baustista said in a statement.

Bautista said the bookings were made by tourists from Hong Kong, Beijing, Xiamen and other points in China.

The PAL president added that two Hong Kong- and Macau-bound Filipino tourists have also changed their destination.

Despite the increasing number of cancellations, PAL said that it continues to dispatch 5 daily flights to and from Hong Kong.

Bautista said that the airline may decide to reduce the flights if booking cancellations continue.

But he noted the airline is hoping that "fears of travelling to the Philippines will be temporary."

A day after the bloody hostage drama, the Hong Kong government issued a "black" travel alert for the Philippines. It advised all its citizens to refrain from visiting the Philippines because of the incident.

PAL said it has yet to determine the financial impact of the booking cancellations.

The airline is currently engaged in a dispute with its employees. It was forced to reduce flights because of the recent mass resignation of its pilots.

Baustista said they are hoping that the government's effort to appease the Hong Kong government will "soon lead to the lifting of the travel restrictions."

Governments of neighboring Asian countries have also reportedly issued warnings against travel to the Philippines because of the bloody hostage drama.

Hotel cancellations

Meanwhile, hotels and travel agencies have also reported cancellations, and they fear that more tourists from mainland China, and even Taiwan, may also cancel their bookings.

For one, the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel said it has lost bookings from groups of Chinese nationals.

Earlier, the Department of Tourism admitted that Monday's hostage drama may affect tourist arrivals in the Philippines, and could undermine government targets.

Data from the DoT website showed that from January to May this year, a total of 33,395 tourists from Hong Kong visited the Philippines, 14.43% higher than the 29,185 reported in the same period in 2009.

Of the number, about half or 13,775 went to the Philippine capital, Manila.

The DoT said that East Asia -- composed of China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and Taiwan -- is Manila's major source of foreign visitors.