European tourists have started to avoid the Philippines and seek other tourism Asian destinations after the government shut down Boracay Island last month.
European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines president Guenter Taus said in a briefing marking the group’s 40th anniversary celebration Thursday that about half of European tourists frequenting the Philippines had turned to other countries.
“It was a tough sell, I hate to say because of the Boracay closure. I don’t know if it was because (the) visit was untimely or if the closure of Boracay was... but it was hard to sell the Philippines as a tourism destination,” he said.
Members of the chamber visited two countries in Europe in the past two weeks searching for alternatives to the traditional Boracay package.
The chamber said about half of the 553,000 European tourists who went to the Philippines were having second thoughts of going back here because of the way the government was managing the industry.
Groups that had booked for Boracay were not able to refund the money, after European tour operators cited force majeure.
“But we all know that it was because of the government. That’s why we changed direction a little since then, and we’re trying to find out how (we could convince) them (to) go back and try other places in the Philippines. We still have Bohol, Siquijor and a number of islands that are similarly interesting,” said Taus.
He added European tourists were picky and set in their ways, and that it might take time before they could be wooed back.
The upscale market was also worrisome, he added, but the backpacker type was more flexible since they did not stay in one destination.
“It’s hard to put on a figure but since travelers from Europe are mostly upscale and the backpacking visitors, I suppose it’s safe to say that we might have lost half the number of what we normally expect in year because of the closure,” Taus said.
Most of the disappointed tourists either went to Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam, after realizing their options, he added.
“But I’m sure it will bounce back the moment we shift gear and look at other opportunities as well. Because as news dies, you try to feed in more positive things and move on from there,” he said.
The chamber has grown form an initial 51-member companies to 800 local and foreign members, ranging from medium-sized enterprises to multinational corporations.
It is one of the oldest European chambers outside of Europe and remains one of the leading organizations in the Philippines when it comes to advocacy, market intelligence and ability to provide members with opportunities to connect.