Philippines working to boost Gulf arrivals [Travel & Tourism News]
(Travel & Tourism News Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) THE Philippines has recorded a rise in tourist numbers in 2012 and the first half of 2013, including a major increase from the Middle East. TTN got in touch with Philippine's Departmment of Tourism Assistant Secretary Benito Bengzon Jr, who heads the Market Development Group – which manages the Middle East region – to learn more about the Philippine's marketing drive... What were the inbound tourism figures of 2012 and the first half of 2013?The total number of tourist arrivals to the Philippines in 2012 was 4,272,811 representing a growth of 9.07 per cent from the previous year. For the first half of 2013, total arrivals registered were 2,380,593, an 11.06 per cent increase compared to the same period of 2012. From the Middle East, the total arrivals in 2012 was 57,275, a 2.59 per cent increase from 2011. For the first half of 2013, arrivals from the region were 37,231, a hefty 19.87 per cent increase compared to the same period of 2012.
What kind of response do you see from the Arab region? We hope that the Arab region will see the Philippines as a must-experience destination and their next most important holiday venue in Asia. We hope to get a bigger share of the leisure travellers specially those travelling as families. To enhance visitor interest in the region, we will be heightening our advertising campaigns and will undertake more promotional campaigns in cooperation with the airlines and the travel sector.
Since its opening in 2011, what has the representative office in Dubai achieved?Our marketing representative has enhanced our networks with the airline and travel trade of the region leading to the development of more tour packages to the Philippines and has also expanded our contacts with trade and consumer publications leading to heightened publicity about the country. We have also enhanced our working relationship with the embassies and consulates of the Philippines based in the region. Brochures featuring our numerous destinations have been printed in Arabic for the first time. Several familiarisation trips for media and tour operator/travel agents have also been organised.
What are your marketing strategies in the GCC and Middle East?We are focusing on two markets – the UAE and Saudi Arabia – and we are targeting both Arabs and expatriates. We have invitational programmes that target the Middle East media and tour operators to have a first-hand experience about the tourism products and services of the Philippines. We plan to continue participating in major regional travel fairs like the Arabian Travel Mart and Riyadh Travel Fair to link our local suppliers/operators with their Middle East counterpart. We will also conduct programmes with airlines which include sales missions in key cities of Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Other joint activities with major tour operators and airlines include brochures, flyers and websites in English and Arabic.
What are your global key source markets? What new markets are you keen to explore in the region?Our key source markets are Australia, Canada, China, Hongkong, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and the US. In the Middle East, our major markets are the Saudi Arabia and the UAE. In the near future, we are seriously considering Qatar with Kuwait and Bahrain as other probable markets. What is the strategic plan for Philippines in 2014?We are guided by the strategic directions of the National Tourism Development Plan which include improving access and connectivity, developing competitive products and destinations, heightening promotional activities, and improving governance and tourism workforce. Among our major thrusts in 2014 are more aggressive advertising campaigns in different key markets and the pursuit of new markets based on geographic, demographic, and psychographic segments. We will also develop new and enhance existing products and services including those that appeal to the Arab market. How best do you package Philippines as a destination?Our slogan says it all – It's More Fun in the Philippines. We package the country as a destination with seamless fun. We sell not only the beautiful destinations but also the experience. Most of our high-end hotels and resorts are family-orientated. Parents can have their time alone while their children are being attended by resort/hotel staff in a children's play room or they can have fun together at our numerous beaches and parks.
For those who are seeking medical treatment, we have facilities and services that meet international standards. We also have spas and other health and wellness facilities. Those into adventure can experience white water rafting, skydiving, surfing, diving, mountain/lava vein climbing/and trekking. For shopping, signature products and international brands of boutiques/stores are available in major cities. Local signature brands with world class quality are available all over the country. Travellers can also enjoy live musical entertainment for which the Philippines is well known.
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