UK allows Britons to travel to most part of Mindanao

July 16, 2009 9:23 am 

MANILA, July 16 — The British government this week downgraded its travel restrictions on the Philippines by allowing “essential travels” to most parts of Mindanao, a move the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said "reflected the United Kingdom's improving outlook for Mindanao."

After three years of banning all travel to the region, the UK Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) revised its travel advisories following representations from the Philippine Embassy in London.

The July advisory expanded the allowable areas for travel to include all parts of Mindanao except Southwest Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago–which include the provinces of Sarangani, North and South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Lanao del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, and Zamboanga Sibugay.

This part of Mindanao is still an "area in conflict," where kidnappings an bombing incidents have occurred. Two foreign workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross were abducted in the area early this year, but have since been released safely.

Earlier this month, a high-level DFA delegation and the Philippine embassy in London met with officials of the British Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) on the restrictions, resulting in the latter's modification of its travel advisory that now allows British travelers to explore top tourism destinations in Mindanao, according to the DFA.

British travelers, many of them eco-tourists, remain the largest European market for Philippine tourism. A total of 87,422 Britons visited the country in 2008, registering a 9.73 percent growth from the previous year.(PNA)

/V3/GJB/

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