SHANGHAI -- (UPDATE - 4:12 p.m.) Chinese travel agencies have suspended tourist packages to the Philippines and promised refunds to customers who have booked trips, Chinese state media reported Thursday, as tensions over disputed islands in the South China Sea escalated.
Companies including Ctrip.com and Beijing International Travel Service have halted all tours to the Philippines and say they will not accept bookings until the situation improves, Chinese media reported.
China is the Philippines' fourth major source of visitors, with 96,455 arrivals recorded in the first quarter of this year, a 77.53 percent increase over the 54,332 arrivals in the same period last year.
The Department of Tourism said it had not been officially informed of the plans of the Chinese travel agencies to suspend tours to the Philippines.
In a text message through his office, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. said: “As far as the DOT is concerned, we have not been officially informed of the advisory [from China travel agencies].” (Click InterAksyon.com for the rest. Published on May 10, 2012.)
Tourism-related stocks dip after news of Chinese tour suspensions
MANILA, Philippines -- Tourism-related stocks took a dip in mid-afternoon trade, shaken by the news that travel agencies in China are suspending tours to the Philippines.
As of 3:15 p.m., share price of Bloomberry Resorts Inc. fell 4.21 percent to P9.18; AGI, operator of Resorts World, was down 5.55 percent to P12.94; Waterfront Philippines Inc. was off 10.43 percent to P0.43; and Cebu Pacific dipped 2 percent to P68.59.
News of the suspension of the Chinese tours came a day before scheduled worldwide protests by Filipinos against China’s continued intrusion into disputed territory in the South China Sea, which Manila calls the West Philippine Sea.
China has also issued a travel advisory warning its citizens against travel to the Philippines.
“Obviously their main business will be affected,” Astro del Castillo, managing director of First Grade Finance, said of the dip.
“China’s contribution to overall tourism in the country is quite significant,” Del Castillo said. “But the escalation tensions in the disputed territory are obviously brought on also by the stories in the media of the actions taking place here.” (Originally published in InterAksyon.com, May 10, 2012.)