LAOAG CITY (August 27) – The aftermath of the Manila hostage taking bloodbath has brought havoc to the city tourism industry here with the abrupt suspension of commercial flights from Hongkong to Laoag and vice versa beginning Thursday, Aug. 26.
Milagros Gonzales, Department of Tourism provincial director, confirmed that the twice weekly Hongkong Express flights from Hongkong to this city and vice versa have been suspended indefinitely by its management.
“We were informed that all bookings in two major hotels in the city have also been canceled since Tuesday,” she said.
Ronald Estavillo, manager of the Laoag International Airport , said he got a letter from executives of the Hongkong Express airline notifying him about the suspension of their regular flights to Laoag.
Estavillo said there was no mention of the reason behind the suspension as it was a standard operating procedure for carriers to suspend flights without stating the cause.
He said, however, that the last flight coming from Hongkong Thursday had arrived as scheduled to transport back the remaining Hongkong nationals who visited the city last Sunday.
Gonzales said the city’s tourism industry is bound to suffer the impact of reduced number of tourists because of the flight cancellation.(Independent observers said many visiting Chinese tourists in Laoag and Ilocos Norte were reportedly caught flat-footed by the Aug. 23 Manila hostage killings of their compatriots, hence, they were apparently scared and decided not to stay here longer to sympathize with their slain countrymen-Editor).
She said Hongkong tourists have been steadily coming to Laoag before the Manila tragic incident in Luneta occurred where disgruntled police captain Rolando Mendoza hijacked a tourist bus and allegedly killed eight among the Hongkong nationals on board the ill-fated bus.
At least 1,200 Hongkong nationals visited Laoag City monthly for rest and recreation purposes.
Gonzales said the other international flight from Kaoshiung ,Taiwan to Laoag is expected to be cancelled too in response to the travel ban to the Philippines imposed by Chinese authorities. Around 200 Taiwanese nationals visited the city on a monthly basis.
“We hope to bring back to our province these Chinese tourists in the coming days when the anguish and anger over the tragedy have died down”, she said. (Cristina Arzadon/PIA-I)