Wed, Sep 23, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Ministry issues travel alert for Samal Islands

UNSAFE DESTINATIONS:An expert said tourists looking to book a vacation on an island should avoid visiting those surrounding Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Tourists should avoid visiting the Samal Islands in the southern Philippines after four people at a resort were reported to have been kidnapped by unidentified armed men on Monday night, the Tourism Bureau said yesterday.

The Philippines’ East Mindanao Command said that the two Canadians, one Norwegian and one Filipina were abducted inside the Oceanview Resort on the island after 11pm on Monday night.

The police, navy and coast guard were reported to have dispatched teams to locate the kidnappers.

The incident is not the first time that tourists on the island have been abducted by armed men. The militant group Abu Sayyaf organized operations to abduct tourists on the island in 2001 and 2002.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the travel alert for the Eastern Midanao region of the Philippines has been “yellow” since May this year, which means that travelers should be aware of their personal safety and re-evaluate the necessity of their trip.

The only exception on the island is the urban areas of Davao City, with the travel alert being “gray,” which means tourists are reminded to pay attention to their safety when traveling in the city.

The ministry said that Davao City’s mayor has cracked down on crime, making it a relatively safe place.

The Tourism Bureau said Taiwanese travel agencies do not arrange tours to the Samal Islands, which rarely receive Taiwanese visitors.

Roget Hsu (許高慶), who owns a travel agency management consulting firm, said the islands are normally visited independently by people such as scuba divers.

He said tourists looking to book a vacation on an island should avoid visiting those in the seas surrounding the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia, adding that none of these countries adequately protect the safety of tourists.

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