Following a disastrous hostage crisis, Hong Kong has banned its citizens from travelling to the Philippines. The special territory, which is controlled by its own government, has set an alert to warn travellers of the potential dangers associated with travelling in the country. HK citizens in Manila have been advised to return home – advice that many have taken swift action on.
Eight tourists from Hong Kong were killed during a bus hijacking in the city, after a disgruntled former police officer took control of a tour bus and executed its passengers. Manila’s police force was slow to act on the crisis, with a hostage team allowing the gunman to open fire on the Hong Kong tourists before moving in on the bus and freeing the remainder of its passengers.
Hong Kong’s ‘code black’ travel warning has yet to be repeated in other countries, although several embassies have warned against travel within Manila. While the Philippines has a violent reputation, insurgencies and terrorist acts are rare in the capital. The vast majority of the nation’s violence can be traced to political and religious tensions in its southern regions.
Residents of the Philippines have observed a day of mourning, with politicians throughout the city of Manila acknowledging that police action against the gunman was too slow. Survivors have since returned to Hong Kong, where they were privately escorted back to their homes following a special charter flight from Cathay Pacific.
The country’s multi-billion dollar tourism industry is likely to suffer, as Mainland China warned its citizens not to travel to the Philippines. The nation’s leader – President Benigno Aquino – met with Chinese officials based in the country to discuss an investigation into the incident, which is likely to explain the inaction of police and counter-terrorism groups within the city.