Banning visitors from China at Lila whale shark watching ‘not discriminatory’

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Banning visitors from China at Lila whale shark watching ‘not discriminatory’

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The whale shark watching attraction in Lila has been drawing throngs of visitors daily since it started operations late last year. | Photo: via Ian Pacito

Accused of being discriminatory against Chinese nationals, Lila Mayor Arturo Pollio II said that the new precautionary measure he imposed at the town’s whale-shark watching attraction is meant to protect Bohol residents from the dreaded new coronavirus (2019-nCoV), “not to discriminate.”  

Piollo clarified that the memorandum he recently issued banned the entry of any person who has recently been in China, not Chinese nationals per se.

The mayor issued the statement after 12 Chinese nationals who were barred from entering the site cried foul over the incident, claiming it was discriminatory, on the day the ban was implemented on Tuesday.

“Kini atong gibuhat para ra pud ni sa protection natong mga Bol-anon kay sa akong gikaingon pa ang atong kontra ani dili nato makita, dili nato puydi dakpon, dili nato puydi pusilon. So naghinaut ta na atong masabtan kay wa g’yud ta mag-discriminate,” Piollo said.

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According Greg Jala, president of the Seaworld Recreational Reservation Services which operates the whale shark watching, they will look at the passports of foreign nationals to check where the holder has traveled.

Those who have recently traveled to China will be denied entry at the site.

Jala said that about “80 percent” of the tourist attraction’s visitors are Chinese.

He claimed that they can accommodate a maximum of 700 visitors in a day at the site, which has emerged as the province’s newest tourism draw since starting operations late last year.

Jala however said that arrivals plummeted since travel restrictions were imposed in China in efforts to contain the nCoV, limiting the travel of Chinese tourists. Number of visitors is expected to further drop with the new precautionary measure implemented in Lila.

Piollo’s ban on people who have recently traveled to China was imposed following the nCoV outbreak which has gripped the country with fear of getting sick and has alarmed various other nations including the Philippines.

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The Chinese city of Wuhan has been identified as ground zero of the nCoV which has killed over 100 people and sickened hundreds. The virus has spread to various parts of China and other countries as well.

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There are several suspected nCoV cases in the Philippines but so far none have been confirmed. Bohol in particular remains free of the deadly disease. (RT)

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