TOURIST ARRIVALS DOWN 25% IN APRIL

Dagupan City, May 5, 2003 - The tourism industry is reeling from the effects of the scare over the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the war in Iraq, with Tourism Secretary Richard Gordon reporting a 25 percent decrease in tourist arrivals last month.

Gordon, who graced this city’s Guinness bid for the world’s longest grill last Saturday, told reporters that the country’s tourist arrivals plunged "minus five percent overall."

According to Gordon, tourist arrivals were up by 13 percent in January and six percent in February. However, in March and April, it plummeted to minus eight and minus 25, respectively.

"So, overall we had a minus five percent," he said.

The tourism chief said though that this is not very serious compared to Singapore’s minus 68 percent or Hong Kong’s probable minus 90 percent since tourists no longer visit the former British colony since the SARS outbreak.

Gordon, chairman of the East Pacific Commission, disclosed that in June, all tourism ministers in East Asia and the Pacific would tackle crisis management in a major conference in Manila.

"This will be another major boost to our tourism (industry) as we will have an additional opportunity to promote our programs," he said.

Gordon urged Dagupeños and Pangasinenses to capitalize on their long line of beaches and good peace and order situation for tourism opportunities. (Eva Visperas, Star)


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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