Published on: Saturday, September 28, 2013
Kota Kinabalu: Those wary of flying to the Philippines for business or leisure trips can be rest assured that there are no anti-Malaysia sentiments going on in the Philippines, confirmed Medardo G. Macaraig, Minister and Consul General from the Embassy of the Philippines, Kuala Lumpur.
"Malaysia is the Philippines' 10th largest tourist market according to the Philippines Department of Tourism and the Philippines is Malaysia's 7th largest tourist market according to Tourism Malaysia."
In regards to the Filipino intrusion which happened in Lahad Datu in February this year, he said what happened there does not represent the Filipinos. In fact, it is not a sentiment of the Filipinos.
In relation to this, he believed that the whole thing is over and that it should pose no problems.
"Malaysians are friends of the Filipinos," highlighted Macaraig at a press conference at Le Meridien, after a presentation aimed at promoting beautiful destinations in the Philippines and Cebu Pacific Air services.
In response to the conflict in Zamboanga, Philippines, he said it involves only a very small part of their population.
"And it is practically over, so Malaysians should not worry about going to the Philippines.
The Filipino government has already dealt with those problems," he assured.
As for foreign tourist arrivals in the Philippines, it reached 4.27 million in 2012 which represents a 9.1 per cent increase from the previous year.
Out of this number, he pointed out that 114,513 were Malaysians and represent a high increase of 24.81 per cent from the previous year.
"Year 2012 marked the first year that Malaysian arrivals in the Philippines reached up to 100,000," he said.
"Of course we are trying to increase our target. This year, we target 5.5 million foreign tourist arrivals and one of the promising market arrivals is of course from Malaysia," admitted Macaraig.
As for the number of Filipinos residing in Malaysia, he said the estimation is around 600,000 to 800,000.
"According to statistics from Tourism Malaysia, about 508,744 Filipinos visited Malaysia in 2012 which represent 45 per cent growth from the previous year."
Meanwhile, Philippines Department of Tourism's Director and Group Head for North America and Asia Pacific, Maria Corazon Jorda-Apo, welcomed Malaysians and Sabahans, in particular, to their 7,107 islands.
Among the highlights, according to her, are the natural talcum white powder sand and see-through crystal clear water of the islands of Boracay which was rated as the best island in the world in 2012 and second best island in the world in 2013 according to Travel + Leisure, international magazine.
"Palawan is now on the first list this year. In 2012, Palawan grabbed global attention after the Puerto Princesa Underground River was named one of the new seven wonders of nature."
Among those present at the event was Sabah Tourism Board Deputy General Manager, Gordon C. Yapp.