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Despite kidnappings, PHL ‘very much’ safe for tourists —DOT chief

The Philippines remains to be a safe place for tourists despite an increase in kidnapping cases mostly involving Chinese nationals, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said on Wednesday.

“Very much,” she said when asked if the country, which saw 6.8 million international visitors in the first 10 months of the year, remains safe. “We will not promote a place where we know it’s not safe.”

“Kung may mangyari sa isang turista lang, it destroys the whole Philippines. Hindi naman kasi nila nakikita, kunwari may nangyayari dito, akala nila buong Pilipinas na ‘yun,” she said during the Kapihan sa Manila Bay news forum.

The Tourism department is in close coordination with the police, the military and local government units to ensure tourists are safe. Tourism cops are also present in tourist destinations, she said.

In the case of Chinese visitors, Puyat said they are vetted by the Bureau of Immigration before they are allowed to enter the country.

The Philippine National Police has registered 75 kidnapping cases so far this year. Forty-two incidents were related to Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators and casinos.

Twenty-seven of the cases have been resolved and 88 suspects have been arrested.

A recent incident went viral on social media, involving a Chinese woman who was dragged into a vehicle in Makati City on Monday night. Her husband is now considered a person of interest.

Visitors from China make up the second largest international tourists in the Philippines—nearly 1.5 million visitors in January to October 2019. Koreans topped the list at 1.6 million, with Americans accounting for more than 870,000.

Nearly 570,000 tourists came from Japan, while more than 280,000 came from Taiwan, according to the Tourism department.

“It is to our advantage to make sure that the tourists are safe so that when they come to that particular tourist destination, they know that walang mangyayari sa kanila. They’re safe and secure,” Puyat said. —VDS, GMA News