Hong Kong tour guides will be trained by police experts on how to properly handle hostage-taking and other terror-related situations when leading tour groups overseas. The need for such specialised skills follows the deaths of the eight Hong Kong residents in the Manila hostage drama on Monday. Travel Industry Council chairman Michael Wu Siu-ieng said such training was not new but had not been much of a priority, as tour guides rarely faced such extreme situations. At most, they had to know how to ensure the safety of their charges during natural disasters, like the Indian Ocean tsunami that devastated Phuket in December 2004, Wu said on a radio programme yesterday. The council sought help from police on Thursday to provide the training, and tour instructors would first be taught the necessary skills by police experts. The instructors would then train tour guides, Wu said. Since the Hong Kong government issued a warning against travel to the Philippines following the shootings, Wu said nine tours, involving about 140 people, had been cancelled. Travel agencies had also stopped accepting such group bookings. Major travel agencies in large mainland cities have also suspended tours to the Philippines due to safety concerns. The National Tourism Administration issued a statement on Tuesday warning that tourists should be careful when travelling to the Philippines. Most travel agencies in Guangdong, Fujian , Zhejiang and five other provinces had cancelled or postponed tours to the Philippines by Wednesday, the China News Service reported. A staff member in the marketing department of the China Youth Travel Service in Shenzhen said the agency had postponed all tours to the Philippines and there would not be any to the country next month. China National Radio quoted a travel agency manager in Zhejiang saying that safety was the priority for tourists, and as a result it was not promoting any tours to the Philippines to customers. The mainland's largest airline charter company, Nanhu Travel, said yesterday it would scrap all flights to the Philippines for four weeks from Wednesday.