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Philippines typhoon warning 'unfounded', travel chiefs tell ministry, tourism authority

November 28, 2013, 15:13 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The main island destinations of Boracay, Mactan and El Nido, popular with Russian tourists, were reportedly not hit by the storm
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MOSCOW, November 28. /ITAR-TASS/. Representatives of Russian travel agencies have urged the foreign ministry and state tourism authority to withdraw advice that holidaymakers should avoid trips to The Philippines in the wake of typhoon Haiyan.

Key resorts were not affected, Russia's Travel Industry Union (RST) has told ministry and Rostourism officials.

“RST has received numerous messages from tour operators, reflecting information from tourists and partners in the Philippines and statements from the country’s tourism department, that the typhoon had affected only several parts of the archipelago,” spokeswoman Irina Tyurina told Itar-Tass on Thursday.

The main island destinations of Boracay, Mactan and El Nido, popular with Russian tourists, were not hit by the storm, she said, referring to conditions which lashed the central Leyte province and affected the lives of more than 9.5 million people. Destinations rated Russians' top choices continued hosting their guests, Tyurina said.

Calling for withdrawal of November's advice to stay away, RST's letter noted that “Throughout the world, recommendations to refrain from visiting this or that country over unfavourable weather conditions are applied to certain territories affected by a natural disaster."

But, the letter said, "According to the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, adopted by the United Nations World Tourism Organization, recommendations of this kind should be limited to particular geographic zones where security problems are reported. And these warnings ought to be eased or abolished as soon as the situation normalizes.

“In the Russian Foreign Ministry’s recommendations, all Philippine islands are listed as unsafe to visit although the resort zones and territories damaged by the typhoon are located at a distance of 340-570 kilometers from each another,” the letter noted.

Tourists sent to The Philippines by Russian travel companies had neither problems during their stay in the country nor any difficulties returning, the travel union said, adding that from November 11, all flights had resumed.

"Recommendations to refrain from trips to The Philippines only mislead Russian people, are entirely unfounded, affect demand and disrupt the high season, which has just started,” the industry complained.

Moscow travel agencies had to cancel visits for entire tourist groups and bore large losses, Tyurina said.

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