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May 24, 2012

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Travelers divert to resort isles

MOST local tourists who planned to visit the Philippines have turned to the resort islands of Bali, Phuket and Cheju, which witnessed a noticeable increase of visitors from China recently, travel agencies said.

The abrupt change comes because of tense relations between China and the Philippines that started April 10, when a Philippine warship harassed 12 Chinese fishing vessels that had sailed near Huangyan Island to seek shelter from a storm.

"Short island routes with a relatively low price have soaked up the majority of local tourists bound for the Philippines because they boast similar attractions," said Yu Weihua, general manager of the Shanghai China International Travel Service Co Ltd.

The agency reported a 20-plus percent increase of visitors to Bali, Indonesia and Phuket, Thailand compared to last year.

Each tour package is priced between 4,000 yuan (US$640) and 5,000 yuan and lasts about five days.

The Shanghai China CYTS Outbound Travel Service Co Ltd has seen a 10 percent increase of tourists to Bali, Phuket and Cheju, South Korea.

"Those who decided to visit the Philippines contribute to the increase," said Liu Xin, its deputy general manager.

Chen Jianqing, a local resident in his 20s who planned to visit the Philippines with his friends in June, said he would go to Phuket instead.

"Our first choice is the Boracay Island (in the Philippines), but now we have decided Phuket as our destination because we can also enjoy white sandy beach and diving there," he said.

In 2011, the Philippines was a top ten destination for local tourists.

More than 38,000 organized travelers in Shanghai visited there last year, with the islands Boracay, Cebu and Bohol the major attractions.


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