Travel warnings are not anti-tourism, UK envoy says


Posted at Jul 27 2017 10:46 PM

MANILA - The United Kingdom does not intend to pull down the Philippines' tourism industry whenever it issues travel advisories for its citizens planning to visit the country, its envoy to Manila said Thursday.

Just this week, the British government reiterated its warning to British nationals against traveling to Mindanao following the extension of martial law in the southern island until the end of the year.

Noting that terrorism is a global problem, Ambassador Asif Ahmad said the Philippine Embassy in the UK also issued advisories for Filipinos amid the terrorism episodes in London as it is the diplomatic post's "obligation" to issue one.

"It’s not a black mark on the country. It’s a beautiful country to visit. Some of the destinations I’ve been to are just mind-boggling," he told ANC's Headstart.

Ahmad, who will leave his post in Manila for an assignment in Bahamas in a few days, even shared that his son chose to propose to his girlfriend in Palawan.

"It’s not that we’re anti-tourism to the Philippines. In fact, we want to invest in this industry. We’ve been talking to the airlines, the hotel groups. Travel advisories are specific, they’re intelligence-led, and they’re not forever," he said.

Ahmad is also optimistic that once the Mindanao peace process "really takes hold," the warning for the region will be lowered. 

"It is absolutely essential for this country because one of the observations I’ve had is that it is a little bit out of sight, out of mind. People pretend that it’s something down there, but with a president that comes from Mindanao, the issue is very much central in the mindset of Filipinos," he said.