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Air travel trade booming

Tourism industry in the country continues to thrive despite the recent kidnapping of three foreign  tourists in Mindanao, as indicated by the  air travel boom due to cheap jet fuel, a lawmaker said.

“The Department of Tourism will  spend P4.6 billion next year to sell Philippines as tourist destination, thus kidnapping is  seen as big challenge to new PNP chief,” House Deputy Minority Leader LPG-MA Representative Arnel Ty said.

Ty also expressed confidence that foreign visitors to the Philippines will continue to increase in the months ahead, mainly because of the heavily discounted tours brought about by falling aviation jet fuel prices.

“Spurred by the plunge in jet fuel prices, airlines and travel agents around the world are now selling bargain basement-priced tours, so we still expect arrivals to grow,” he  said.

“At $60.10 per barrel, the price of jet fuel has nosedived 46.9 percent compared to a year ago, and air fares everywhere are going down, according to Ty, who speaks for the minority in House energy committee.

“Cheaper air fares and tours are bound to bring in a greater number of foreign vacationers. This should more than offset any negative publicity from a single untoward incident,” he said.

Citing figures from Platts, the world’s leading energy information provider, Ty said airlines around the world are projected to amass a combined $85.2 billion in cost savings this year as a result of lower jet fuel prices, thus enabling them to offer cut-rate fares.

Tour operators allied with Philippine resorts and casinos at The Entertainment City are also expected to step up promotions to draw in gaming enthusiasts from abroad, Ty, a member of the House games and amusements committee, pointed out.

The DoT is sticking to its target of up to 5.5 million foreign visitors this year, up from 4.8 million in 2014. The department is aiming for up to 10 million foreign sightseers in 2016.

Meanwhile, Ty said the national government is also spending another P24 billion next year to build new infrastructures meant to make tourist destinations more accessible to visitors.

The Sept. 21 kidnapping of Norwegian resort manager Kjartan Sekkingstad, 56; Canadian guests John Ridsdel, 68, and Robert Hall, 50; and Hall’s 40-year-old Filipina companion, Maritess Flor, has prompted the Canadian government to warn its citizens against traveling to Mindanao.

The four victims were seized by unidentified gunmen from the Holiday Ocean View Resort in Samal Island, Davao del Norte.

“This is a big challenge to Director-General Ricardo Marquez, who is barely three months in his post as police chief. We are counting on the police to neutralize the kidnappers and rescue the hostages,” Ty said.

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