INBOUND traffic from Taiwan to the Philippines has plunged and three airlines plying routes between the two countries have cancelled services, following Taiwan's travel advisory against the South-east Asian country.
The announcement came on May 14, after a Taiwanese fisherman was killed by Philippine coastguards in disputed waters off Batanes.
Insisting on anonymity, the general manager of a top travel agency handling Taiwanese tourists, said since the advisory was issued, he has had “zero” FITs and groups from Taiwan.
He added that correspondence from the Department of Tourism shows that Philippine Airlines, China Airlines and ZestAir have all cancelled their flights between Kalibo – the gateway to Boracay, a popular haunt for Taiwanese tourists alongside Cebu – and Taiwan.
However, all Cebu Pacific flights to Taiwan are to proceed as scheduled, said the carrier’s booking office.
Another anonymous travel consultant whose company specialises in Taiwanese inbound reported that all FIT and group tour bookings until October had been cancelled.
Although hotels have waived the penalties for June to October cancellations, the travel consultant said his agency must shoulder the hotels’ penalty charges of 50 to 100 per cent of booking fees for May cancellations.
Tourism assistant secretary Benito Bengzon Jr held a meeting yesterday afternoon to address tourism stakeholders affected by the travel ban.
Taiwan is the Philippines’ fifth largest source market, accounting for 4.2 per cent of total inbound arrivals. In 1Q2013, Taiwanese arrivals dipped 6.7 per cent to 53,867 tourists.