Palawan’s removal in the United Kingdom’s (UK) travel ban list only shows “it is safe and secured” from the acts of terrorism in Mindanao, said the City Tourism Office (CTO) as it welcomes the news Monday.
On February 8, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) of the UK government posted in an update the removal of information on kidnapping in Palawan.
“Terrorism section (Kidnapping) – removal of information on Palawan,” the FCO website stated under its Travel Advice section.
However, it maintained its advice against all travels “to western and central Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago because of terrorist activity and clashes between the military and insurgent groups.”
The UK’s travel ban on Palawan was issued in 2017 and reiterated in 2018 after a kidnap-for-ransom group from Sulu threatened to seize foreigners from island and beach resorts.
Assistant city tourism officer Demetrio Alvior said UK’s move is a welcome development although its citizens never really stopped visiting Palawan, particularly Puerto Princesa City.
“Nagpapakita lang na ‘yong Palawan ay safe siya at hindi affected ano man ang nangyayari sa Mindanao area. Particularly dito sa Puerto Princesa City ay safe ang mga citizens nila. Even before hindi naman affected tayo dito,” Alvior said.
Alvior said even with the reiteration of the travel ban in 2018, UK was still part of their Top 5 visitor list.
“Ang first natin mga Korean, then Taiwanese, Chinese, U.S. citizens and then UK nationals na. Panglima sila sa dami ng bumisita sa atin even with the travel advisory,” he pointed out.
City tourism officer Aileen Cynthia Amurao said, on the other hand, that the growing British community in Puerto Princesa may have helped in lifting the ban.
She said its members assisted in informing the UK that it is peaceful in the province.
“Generally, they have proven it is peaceful in Palawan. ‘Yong British community dito nakatulong sa pag-inform sa kanila na tahimik naman talaga at ligtas dito. Ang population natin sa British community dito lumalaki, talagang kino-consider nila na ligtas dito,” Amurao said.
On Tuesday, a delegation from the British Embassy will visit the city, according to Mayor Lucilo Bayron during Monday’s flag ceremony at the City Hall.
He did not say if British Ambassador to the Philippines Daniel Robert Pruce will be part of the visit.