“The thing about tourism is that the reality of a place is quite different from the mythology of it.”
By Alex P. Vidal
WE are worried for tourism in Iloilo and Guimaras in particular, and in Western Visayas in general, following the travel advisory issued by the United Kingdom urging its citizens to avoid travel on ferries and passenger boats in the Philippines following the recent Iloilo-Guimaras Strait maritime mishap that killed nearly 31 boat passengers.
Travel advisories issued by European and American countries always have ripple effects and are monitored and followed by other continents with large business and tourism contingents that regularly circumnavigate the globe.
In the age of internet, the recent UK travel advisory can travel and spread around the universe faster than the tsunami and quicker than the speed of a bullet train.
At this time when our tourism has been reaping inroads and dividends owing to the aggressive and productive campaign instituted by the Department of Tourism (DOT) regional office headed by Director Helen Catalbas, we can’t afford to reap a negative publicity in the global market and altogether slump to square one.
Instead of a leap backward, it must be a long jump forward.
Guimaras, producer of the best mango in the world, is undoubtedly a tourism wonder and the only viable means to get there vice versa is through a passenger boat.
With UK’s recent travel advisory, tourism and business in Philippine islands that rely heavily on ferries and passenger boats to connect the tourists and their destinations like Guimaras, Boracay, Bohol, Palawan, among other favorite spots in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao will certainly suffer a dent.
The UK travel advisory exhorted its citizens to avoid travel on ferries and passenger, particularly from June to December, the season when the country is frequently hit by tropical cyclones.
The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “They are often overloaded, may lack necessary lifesaving equipment or be inadequately maintained and have incomplete passenger manifests. Storms can develop quickly and maritime rescue services in the Philippines may be limited.”
Let’s hope a new travel advisory from Europe and America will soon come out; this time to pave the way for a quick Renaissance of tourism in Western Visayas and in the entire Philippines.
The “dark past” of Supt. Roland Vilela, penciled in to be next chief of the Iloilo Police Provincial Office (IPPO), circulated in the media faster than his credentials and accomplishments as police official.
This came after his name was reportedly chosen recently from among the list of police officials by Iloilo Governor Arthur “Toto” Defensor Jr.
In the past, police officials who would occupy important positions in the Regional Police Office down to the provincial police offices were hailed for their good record and good behavior in press releases prior to assuming their respective assignments.
In the case of Supt. Vilela, it’s the opposite.
As long as he was not yet convicted of any criminal act, he could still perform his tasks as a PNP official; Ilonggos can still give him the benefit of the doubt.
He wouldn’t be allowed to stay in the PNP if he had been found guilty of hooliganism or any serious moral and criminal misconduct.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)