Sep 26, 2020

Red flags on Palawan’s tourism boom

Recent reports that certain Chinese nationals were involved in online illegal gambling is a cause for concern to authorities and must be addressed judiciously and immediately.

The situation concerning the increased presence of Chinese nationals around the city, mostly tourists including newly organized establishments catering to tourism, forms the backdrop of this seeming trend which has prompted City Hall officials to call for an investigation.

In Manila and other major cities, the reported involvement of Chinese nationals in online casino gambling has come to a head and has enforcement agencies having their hands full trying to curtail cybercrime activities.

The recent growth of tourism in Puerto Princesa City has been fueled by unprecedented waves of arrivals of Asian visitors, mainly from Korea and China. What has been otherwise a slumping sector has recently become a vibrant business to local establishments catering to tourists.

It is not certain what has triggered such sudden boost, particularly in Chinese arrivals, but it is well worth noting that all these have happened within the backdrop of the present administration’s diplomatic pivot towards Beijing.

There are certain red flags that needed to be raised concerning this trend, particularly because of the unique situation of Palawan being the territorial doorstep to the disputed West Philippine Sea. With Beijing aggressively maintaining its physical dominance over the region, and with Manila displaying a laissez-faire foreign policy stance, Palawan needs to take care of its own backyard.

As City Hall is set to conduct a probe on illegal Chinese gambling activities, in the wake of recent arrests of certain Chinese nationals, these broad questions of national security also need to be raised.

The inquiry appropriately begs for a response to the need to properly manage tourism growth and the swelling presence of Chinese and other foreign nationals in the province, with the objective of ensuring that certain criminal activities are nipped in the bud, national security is protected and all foreign tourists legitimately enjoy the attractions around the province.

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