Tuesday, 1 June 2010

The Philippines - Is it safe?

This is a question that we often get asked, and we have to say that to a large extent the idea that the Philippines is unsafe is a myth.

Of course, like many countries, the Philippines has its insurgents, but any troubles of a terrorist nature are generally confined to the very south western peninsula of the island of Mindanao which is over 1,000 kilometers to the south of the Philippine capital of Manila. (Closer to Malaysia!) The government has been fighting this insurrection for years. It very rarely affects any other part of this vast country, and certainly not the beautiful tourist destinations we mainly promote.

When you see the troubles in Thailand, which has border skirmishes with Cambodia, Bird Flu, the Thai Government declaring a state of Emergency and people dying on the streets of Bangkok amidst grenade attacks, shootings and protests by the Red Shirts, you realise how safe the Philippines is. The people are delightful and very welcoming. If anything, people feel more safe because there is always very attentive security at top hotels, shopping malls etc.

We're also asked about the safety of travel between islands. Again this is a story that has arisen because of the unfortunate sinking of several ferries over the years. These have usually been very old ships ferrying the indigenous population, suddenly caught up in typhoons. Certainly not transport used by tourists.

The only ferries we use are the Supercat fast boat between Cebu and Bohol;  the local bancas that take tourists across the short strait from Panay to Boracay; and the crossing from Luzon to Puerto Galera, south of Manila.

Most transport between main islands is by modern aircraft. Cebu Pacific run modern aircraft similar to our EasyJet. We only book flights with such modern aircraft. 

In summary, most visitors to the Philippines are taken back by the friendliness and welcome from the local people, and have no reason to feel unsafe.

Addition: Let's not forget that Tourism is an ever-increasingly vital part of the Philippines economy, employing ordinary people and families all over the various islands.