• SE Asian MICE planners unrattled by Philippine security issues

    SE Asian MICE planners unrattled by Philippine security issues

    Rachel AJ Lee, Singapore, May 18, 2017

    Despite the Abu Sayyaf incident in Bohol in April, and the recent kidnapping threat in Palawan, Philippine MICE specialists say most business events and incentive groups from South-east Asia are still choosing to proceed with their travel plans to the destination.

    John Emsermann, director of Select Travel Services, told TTGmice: “We’ve got so many other destinations (in the Philippines) to choose from. If I have a client that is afraid of Palawan, I’ll send them to Cebu or one of the other destinations. For me, there has been no drop in my MICE business at all as groups merely tend to avoid the problem areas.”


    “We are an archipelago, it is not possible to terrorise the whole country at one go,” agreed Marjorie Aquino, senior sales & marketing manager, Blue Horizons Travel & Tours.

    But for Aquino, she indicated that her company does receive cancellations because of travel advisories and warnings.

    She said: “For example, we were supposed to have an educational group trip to Bohol in April, which was the same time as the Abu Sayyaf incident, but because of a travel warning, they decided to pull out. There were a few other Bohol-bound groups that cancelled as well.”

    However, Aquino stressed that there was a difference between travel advisories and travel warnings.

    “If you say warning, it means clients shouldn’t visit. If it is an advisory, clients still have options to push through with their tour. On our part as a DMC, we will update our partner agents on what’s happening in the Philippines as soon as we get the news,” Aquino pointed out.

    Similar to Emsermann, Antonio Ang, general manager of Ang’s Tour, said that for his company, his clients are still choosing the Philippines, but they “just avoid the problem areas”.

    When asked where they were going instead, Ang said: “We have Malaysian, Thai and Vietnamese incentive groups that are heading to Cebu, Boracay and Manila.”

    On the ground in Palawan, Jennifer Resurreccion, sales manager – corporate of Sheridan Beach Resort & Spa in Puerto Princesa, said: “Business in Palawan is still the same, the kidnapping is just a rumour. We haven’t had any cancellations for our MICE groups. As well, the department of tourism has released a memo stating that it is safe to visit Palawan.”

    In fact, business has been growing for the 95-room resort, where it expects 75 additional rooms to come online in August. Event spaces on the property include a convention hall good for 500 pax theatre-style, two meeting rooms for 25 pax each, as well as a beach front, garden, gazebo and poolside area.

    Aquino concluded: “Security issues and numerous threats happen everywhere. It’s just a matter of people being vigilant, but the destination can also help (alleviate fears by) heightening their security.”