Travel advisory

  • Typhoon Xangsane, a category 4 Typhoon, is now en route for Batangas and Metro Manila. Storm tracking indicators suggest it will pass through on the evening of 28 September, but could last up to 48 hours. All areas of Metro Manila and outlying areas are at Typhoon Signal 3 indicating anticipated winds in excess of 100KPH with heavy rains. All schools and Government offices are closed.
  • We advise against all travel to central, southern and western Mindanao, and the Sulu archipelago including Basilan, Tawi-Tawi and Jolo, where there are ongoing military and police operations against insurgent groups..  You should take particular care and maintain high levels of vigilance when travelling to the rest of Mindanao, including Davao.
  • There is a threat of kidnapping throughout the Philippines.  We continue to believe that terrorists and criminal elements plan to kidnap foreign tourists from islands and coastal areas in the southern Philippines – ie Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago.  Kidnappings from other parts of the Philippines cannot be discounted.  Boats travelling to and from offshore islands and dive sites are possible targets.
  • There is a high threat from terrorism throughout the Philippines.  We continue to receive reports that terrorist groups are planning further attacks and believe that they have the capacity and the intent to mount indiscriminate attacks at any time and anywhere in the country.  These attacks could be indiscriminate and against civilian targets in public places, including those frequented by foreigners.
  • At 09:00 BST on 27 September 2006, the Met Office warned that Tropical Storm Xangsane is travelling across the Philippines and is expected to reach Manila on 28 September.  If you plan to travel to the Philippines, you should check the latest situation with your travel agent or airline.  The typhoon season in the Philippines normally runs from July to November.  Please see the Natural Disasters section of this Travel Advice and the Hurricanes page of the FCO website for more information.
  • Penalties for illegal drug importation and use are severe and can include the death penalty.
  • Around 50,000 British tourists visit the Philippines every year.  Most visits are trouble-free.  The main type of incidents for which British nationals require consular assistance in the Philippines are replacing lost or stolen passports, running out of money or overstaying their visa.  You should be alert to the risk of street crime.
  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.
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    AC Nielsen consumer survey

    Consumers all over the world are more cautious today about the outlook for local job prospects than they were last year.  North America, despite a decline from 68 percent to 63 percent, remains the most optimistic about job opportunities compared to Asia Pacific (53 percent) and
    Europe (45 percent).

               
    India maintains its top position in being most positive about local job prospects, unchanged from the last reading. 

    HK now moves to second place, followed by
    Malaysia.
    Korea maintains its position in the bottom of the list.

    AC Nielsen noted a lift of 10 points for the
    Philippines to 52 percent.  This is the highest increase reflected in the Asia Pacific, and is probably due to increased job opportunities in the outsourced services sector, particularly call centers.

    As a region, North America maintains its more optimistic outlook versus
    Europe and Asia Pacific, while Asia Pacific consumers are the least comfortable with the state of their personal finances over the next year.

    Indians maintain the lead when it comes to their view of personal finances. 
    Indonesia takes second place followed by the Pacific countries.

    The
    Philippines improves 8 points to 68 percent, just behind the Pacific countries.

    The third factor in the computation of the ACNielsen Consumer Confidence Index is whether this is a good time to buy things you want and need or the inclination to spend.

    Fewer online consumers believe it is a good time to buy things they want over the next 12 months.  Among those who think “now is a good time to buy things I want” are the North Americans (48 percent) despite rising national concern for personal debt and soaring fuel prices.  More cautious are the consumers in
    Europe and Asia Pacific, where only 40% and 34% respectively believe that “now” is a good time to spend.

    Now turning to Asia Pacific,
    India still leads, followed this time by HK, and the Pacific countries.  Generally, all countries are more conservative about spending as against their ratings of job prospects and personal finances.  While
    India may rate their job prospects in the 90s and their personal finances in the 80s, their rating about spending is 61.

    The
    Philippines posted a 9 point gain, consistently rating all 3 questions better than in the last reading last November 2005.  Our overall consumer confidence index jumped 7 points in the past 7 months.

    We will now move to that portion of the study that looks into what people are doing with their money.  We asked the question, “Once you have covered your essential living expenses, which of the following statements best describes what you do with your spare cash?”

    About 13 percent of our respondents worldwide said they had no spare cash.  Of the remainder, 40 percent save their money.  When it comes to spending, priorities include holidays/vacations, out of home entertainment, paying off debts and new clothes.  Lower in the scale, but still engaged in by one out of four consumers are home improvements and new technology.

    About 13 percent of our respondents worldwide said they had no spare cash.  Of the remainder, 40 percent save their money.  When it comes to spending, priorities include holidays/vacations, out of home entertainment, paying off debts and new clothes.  Lower in the scale, but still engaged in by one out of four consumers are home improvements and new technology.

    Other Regions has the highest incidence of out-of-home entertainment, with half of their population engaging in this activity, followed by
    Europe.  Asia-Pacific is represented in the top 10 only by HK.  23 percent Filipinos engage in this activity.

    Other regions and Europe have higher levels of people wanting to spend their spare cash on new clothes, particularly in Russia,
    Greece and the Baltics.  For Asia Pacific, Vietnam,
    Thailand and HK came in among the top 10.  The Phils. is not far behind, with 36 percent spending on new clothes, more in this round than the 30 percent in the last round.

    Asia Pacific and
    Europe spend on holidays/vacations.  Asia Pacific countries in the top 10 are Thailand, Singapore, Japan and
    Vietnam.  While the Phils. is not in the top 10, almost 1 in 4 or 23 percent of Filipinos also spend on holidays and vacations.

    The
    Americas lead in payment of debt/credit cards/loans, led by the Canadians.  The Phils. was in the top 10 in the last round, with 44 percent putting spare cash in debt servicing.  In this round, only 30 percent of Filipinos are still debt servicing, a significant drop.

    Home improvements and decorating are given relatively more focus in Europe and North America, with only
    Thailand among A/P joining the top 10 countries.  In the
    Philippines, a lower percentage, one out of 5 online consumers engage in this activity, a bit higher than the A/P average.

    Investments in new technology are given greater priority in other regions, while  
    Europe and Asia Pacific in this round.  Three Asia Pacific countries are in the top 10.  The
    Philippines is not far behind and is at par with 10th place, with almost 1 in 3 Filipinos spending on new technology.

    Investment in shares and mutual funds is led by Asia Pacific, with 7 out of the top 10 countries worldwide coming from our region.  The
    Philippines is not so far behind at 16% engaging in this activity.

    With a global level of only 11 percent, retirement is given the lowest priority worldwide.  It is given more focus in Czech Republic, Austria and
    Thailand.  Very few Filipinos participate in a voluntary retirement fund.

    To summarize how we utilize spare cash in A/P and the
    Philippines, our common priority is to save.  After this, while more of our A/P neighbors are spending on holidays and out of home entertainment, Filipinos put more focus on new clothes, paying off debts, new technology, and only then do we turn to holidays and out of home entertainment.

    We asked our respondents, “What is your biggest concern over the next 6 months?”

    Globally, consumers continue to rank their biggest concerns as the economy, job security and health, relatively unchanged over the past 3 readings.

    Let’s compare the various levels for these major concerns globally, regionally and for the
    Philippines.

    Globally and regionally, consumers continue to rank their biggest concerns as the economy, job security and health, relatively unchanged over the past 3 readings.  However, the
    Philippines has a different focus as a biggest concern, and that is job security, with the economy only ranking 2nd.  Health and political stability are given about the same level of concern in the
    Philippines.

    The concern on job security may be due to increased outsourcing among our local companies, taking advantage of the various outsourcing services now available locally for the global market.

    When combined with the 2nd biggest concern, the economy retains first place while second place now covers health, followed by job security.

    Concerns about the economy are slightly higher in A/P, and concerns about health and job security are clearly below the economy in importance and rated about the same.

    Concerns about political stability and crime are similar globally and regionally, while the global concern about terrorism is not so marked in A/P.

    War has dropped to last place, although slightly higher globally than regionally, perhaps because of its localized nature.

    We will take a look at a country by country review of each major concern, beginning with the economy, the largest major concern worldwide and in the region as well.

    Thailand and Malaysia are the most concerned about the economy, followed by
    Indonesia and HK.   Thailand and
    Malaysia are currently experiencing political uncertainty and the impact of higher oil prices and interest rates. 
    Indonesia is still recovering from the tsunami that killed over 5,000 people and left as many as 100,000 homeless.

    Some good news for us, Filipinos’ concern about the economy dropped 13 points since November 2005, the largest improvement registered in the region.  This is well in line with the 7 point increase in our consumer confidence index.  We are still concerned, but at a much lower level than previously.  It is no longer the biggest concern of most consumers, rating this at 24% versus that for job security, which received 33%, as we will see in the next slide.

    The Vietnamese and Koreans are the most concerned about job security around the region. The Philippines shares a similar level of concern on job security with HK and
    Singapore.  Our concern about job security has gone up 8 points, perhaps due to increased outsourcing by local companies, following the global trend, or redundancies due to increased adoption of technology, and is our highest biggest concern.


    Vietnam and NZ expressed the greatest level of concern for health.  The
    Philippines is at the lower end of the scale, but still increased by 7 points.  While we are not touched by the avian flu, we are nevertheless very aware of its presence in other countries and the possible transference to our country.  Some people have transferred their concern about the economy to the more personal concerns about job security and health.

    Another positive sign for our country is that our level of concern for political stability dropped 8 points since the last reading in November 2005.  About a third of Filipinos are still very much concerned, but there is definitely a downward trend in this area.  This may be one underlying reason why our consumer confidence index has gone up by 7 points.  The continued resolution of our political conflicts should become a priority if we would like to restore consumer confidence in our country.

    Thailand and
    Taiwan are now the most concerned about political stability around Asia Pacific as both these countries are now facing a period of political uncertainty.

    Moving now to the area of terrorism, we can see that the total concern with terrorism is dropping around the region.  The Philippines is towards the lower end of the scale, unchanged since the previous reading.

    Generally concern about crime is relatively low versus other more pressing concerns throughout the region, unchanged throughout except in
    Japan. Filipinos seem to have more important concerns than crime. Only 8% ranked crime as one of their top two concerns.