CHIZ ADVISES TOURISM OFFICERS, OPERATORS TO IMPROVE
Senator Francis Escudero wants local tourism offices, tour operators and travel guides to be more prepared in dealing with emergencies, following the incident that killed a tourist in Palawan, a popular tourist destination.
The senator, who chairs the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, urged local government units (LGUs) to step up their crisis management programs to ensure the safety of both local and foreign visitors.
Escudero made the call after the death of tourist Miguel Ruiz fueled concerns among travelers to the Philippines. Ruiz was reported to have died of poisoning after stepping on a still unknown marine species while snorkeling in Coron.
“From the looks of it, it seems no proper medical response was given to the victim,” Escudero said.
“This is alarming because the incident exposed the vulnerabilities of our tour operators and the lack of capacity of our local travel authorities to handle emergency situations,” he said.
The Coron LGU has released a statement saying Ruiz’s death is “still surrounded by a cloud of uncertainty” and that the cause of death would not be known until the autopsy results are out.
“The sluggish response from the tour guides is proof of the lack of proper first-aid training of those who are supposed to ensure your safety while on holiday,” Escudero said. “How can we expect our local authorities to handle a large-scale disaster or emergency situation?
The senator urged LGUs, especially of tourism hot spots like Palawan, to conduct basic life support training or similar refresher courses for tourism front-liners so that they would be equipped to handle emergency situations.
He also said LGUs should institute more stringent certification guidelines to make sure that tour operators and guides are complying with the requirements of the Department of Tourism (DOT) and local tourism offices.
Last year, seven students from Bulacan State University who were on a field trip drowned while crossing Madlum River in San Miguel, Bulacan.
Escudero pointed out that such incidents could be detrimental to the tourism industry.
Some 2.6 million foreign visitors arrived in the country in the first half of 2015, according to the DOT. Last year, revenues from tourism amounted to P982.4 billion./MP