THE in-flight confrontation between two Chinese travel writers and presidential brother-in-law Eldon Cruz was “unattractive” and may discourage foreign tourists from visiting the country, some Cebu tourism stakeholders said yesterday.
But Cebu Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale said she will not allow abusive tourists in the province even if the Capitol is striving to increase foreign arrivals.
She said the rude behavior shown by Han Yang and “XXX” Mailiyasi towards Eldon Cruz was unacceptable.
Cruz, husband of President Benigno Aquino III’s sister Maria Elena “Ballsy” Aquino, was reportedly manhandled by Hang and Mailiyasi after telling the rowdy passengers to be “be careful” with their cameras while taking photos in the aisle of an in-flight parlor game done by Cebu Pacific flight attendants.
No criminal complaints were filed but the two Chinese were ordered to leave the country despite making a written apology as a result of the incident.
Magpale, who chairs the tourism council in the province, noted that two foreigners accused of child pornography and sex abuse were recently charged in Cebu.
“I was asked, aren’t you sending the wrong signal to foreign tourists visiting Cebu? I said if these are the kind of tourists we have, we don’t need them. We will protect our own people from abusive tourists,” Magpale said.
Magpale said she takes exception to reports that Cebu has become a center for sex tourism.
“Don’t tell me it’s not happening in Boracay, Leyte and Aklan. I’m mentioning these since they are all tourist destinations. What’s their basis for saying that?” she said.
Magpale thanked the media for publicizing the effort of the Provincial Women’s Commission (PWC), which she co-chairs in resolving trafficking and sex abuse cases.
For their part, some local tourism stakeholders said the quick resolution of Cruz’s case was commendable but should not mean that only presidential relatives receive attention and action by government.
Former Tourism undersecretary Phineas Alburo told Cebu Daily News that what happened was an isolated case, which involved two parties who could have misunderstood each other.
“While the quick decision was good, it should be based on a thorough investigation and not because the other one involved is someone related to our President,” Alburo said.
Plantation Bay Resort and Spa general manager Efren Belarmino agreed and said the altercation was a “misunderstanding” that should not disrupt efforts to win back the Chinese market in the wake of last year’s Manila bus hostage tragedy.
“This case won’t result in cancellations in bookings. The remaining 10 of the Chinese tourist writers’ group remained and went on with the tour so I don’t think this is something real serious,” he said.
Robert Lim Joseph, National Association of Independent Travel Agencies Philippines chairman emeritus, said the incident may affect tourism arrivals.
He said investigations on complaints about abusive tourists should be done thoroughly to assure fairness.
Regional Director Rowena Montecillo of the Department of Tourism in Central Visayas (DOT-7) said the 10 remaining Chinese writers weren’t angry about the deportation of their colleagues to Beijing since they continued the tour in Cebu City. They left yesterday.
“They were just confused about why their colleagues were held for a very long time but I’m sure they are made to understand what really happened and why the two have to be sent back to Manila..again this is just so unfortunate,” Montecillo said. Reporter Aileen Garcia-Yap and Correspondent Carmel Loise Matus
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