More multi-city Asian tours

CONVINCED that it should collaborate rather than compete with its South-east Asian neighbours, the Department of Tourism (DoT) Philippines has set about establishing partnerships with the region's NTOs, with Malaysia being the latest, as air links between the two neighbours rise significantly.

  09/03/2012 14:19

DoT secretary Ramon R Jimenez Jr said at the core of its cooperation with Malaysia was the development of the Muslim market. “The Philippines is a predominantly Christian country, so we have much to learn in terms of attracting and taking care of Muslim tourists,” he said.

Jimenez hopes the country can also leverage on Malaysia’s strength in the Europe market, while Malaysia will benefit from the Philippines’ US connection.

He also revealed that similar discussions had been held with his Singapore counterpart, with the goal of creating packages combining both destinations. “We are determined to form a team who will create high-end packages: Europeans can fly into Singapore for a city tour, go to Boracay to get their tan and tattoo, then fly to Singapore again.”

From March 25, Malaysia Airlines is increasing its flights to the Philippines to thrice daily, while SEAir will launch a thrice-weekly Clark-KK service on May 1. Cebu Air has reportedly filed paperwork for flights to Kuching, while Zest Air is looking to mount flights to KL mid-year.

Tourism Malaysia’s acting director-general Azizan Nordin added that the NTO was also widening the number of airlines it worked with. To attract more tourists from the US and Russia, for instance, it will work with the Philippines and South Korea.

The trade, however, has its eye focused closer home, on the Malaysian and the Philippine markets themselves. “As Manila and Clark are just an hour-an-a-half flight away from KK, it will be easy to persuade Sabahans to visit the Philippines,” said Borneo Trails Tours & Travel general manager, Tan Kok Liang.

Infrastructure will also be a focus

ASIDE from growing demand, the Philippines is embarking on capacity building, said Department of Tourism secretary Ramon R Jimenez Jr.

With a new law being implemented this year, 21 areas have been declared tourism enterprise zones, where investors will be offered incentives such as a moratorium on income tax for a property’s first year of operation and no limit to the hiring of expatriate executives, said Jimenez. This is in addition to international airports that are being built and the expansion of cruise terminals across the country, the former meant to boost international arrivals, and the latter, South-east Asian arrivals.

Jimenez also revealed that a Singapore group had already expressed interest in turning the former post office in Manila into The Fullerton Hotel, similar to the one in Singapore.

Source: TTG ASIA


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