RP tourism focuses on Asian neighbors


Despite the global economic slowdown, tourism officials remain confident that the local industry will be resilient as marketing efforts continue to mine specific markets.

The tourism department cited the recently concluded International Tourismus Borse (ITB) in Singapore, the largest travel trade show in Asia, where the Philippines was among the top sellers for tourism products, including the MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) and leisure segments.

“Our presence in this inaugural ITB in Asia is significant, as we maintain our mark in the Asian region, where a huge growth potential is certain,” Tourism Secretary Ace Durano said in a statement.

Peter Long, chief executive of TUI Travel PLC, a leading European leisure travel company in Europe, said another 600 to 700 million people are expected to travel from and within Asia over the next five years.

The tourism department said it will take advantage of this growth.

“The focus on Asian travel buyers and sellers is timely, as there are many opportunities to be tapped with the emergence of the middle-class in China and India, as well as other source markets in the region,” Durano stressed.

Rica Bueno, tourism head for Team Asia Pacific, said the department has positioned the Philippines as a destination of choice in Asia, with a strong emphasis on leisure and incentive travel.

Eduardo Jarque, Jr., undersecretary for tourism planning and promotions, also noted the growth in the incentive travel for the Indian market, and English and Secondary Language training for the Korean market.

“Career women from Southeast Asia are looking for places where they can unwind. Our beaches and spas are among the best,” Jarque said.

Tourist arrivals from the Asia Pacific region accounted for 18 percent of total inbound traffic in the first half of 2008.

The introduction of specialized products on incentive and adventure attracted more visitors from Australia, which grew by 12 percent in the first semester of the year. Hong Kong has been revived with the introduction of new products and tapping new trade channels.

The ASEAN region accounted for a 7.5 percent share of total arrivals, according to a mid-year report.