MANILA, Philippines – The month-long Scarborough Shoal standoff has forced one of the 3 biggest Chinese airlines to cut flights to the Philippines, Chinese state media said Tuesday, May 15.
From two flights daily, China Southern Airlines will fly only once a day on certain dates from May 26 to June 30, the state-run China Daily reported. It is cutting its flights after the number of tourists to the Philippines decreased due to the Scarborough Shoal standoff, the news agency explained.
Major Chinese agencies suspended tours to the Philippines after China’s National Tourism Administration warned its citizens of “massive anti-China demonstrations” led by Filipinos.
In the Philippines, a tourism official said the travel boycott’s effect is “immediate but temporary.”
“We cannot force them to come to the Philippines for after all, the choice will have to be made by them. This obstacle is temporary, and we can and must overcome this,” said Tourism Undersecretary Ma Victoria Jasmin in an e-mail to Rappler.
Based on tourism department statistics, China is the 4th largest market for tourists in the Philippines behind Korea, the United States, and Japan. Statistics show 243,137 Chinese tourists visited the Philippines in 2011, accounting for 6.21% of the Philippines’ 3.9 million tourists last year.
Meanwhile, China has also imposed a quarantine on banana exports from the Philippines. This development is often described as related to the Scarborough Shoal standoff, but is actually “technical” in nature, the Philippine government said. – Rappler.com