MANILA - The Department of Tourism (DOT) is eyeing at least nine countries as new markets to boost foreign tourist arrivals in the Philippines, the country’s tourism chief said.
In an interview on the sidelines of the Philippine Economic Briefing yesterday, DOT Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. said they are focusing market development initiatives in new markets that include Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Russia, India and Middle East.
He said tourism development schemes are also being deployed in the European market. “We have been eyeing new markets. These are areas still untapped by the Philippines as potential markets to boost our tourism industry,” he said.
According to the tourism chief, they have likewise explored talks with France and Spain.
He said at least 26 new inbound flights to the Philippines have also been explored that would generate some 10,404 additional seats per week.
Jimenez said air talks on bilateral agreements with Indonesia, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Japan and Brazil have also been conducted. Recently, there were talks for a new air route to and from New Zealand.
The DOT, he said, had helped facilitate the lifting of the European Union (EU) ban on Philippine Carriers flying to European destinations.
Jimenez said they have also zeroed in on the implementation of tactical campaigns for special markets such as Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong.
This, as he reiterated his optimism of hitting the foreign visitor arrivals target of up to 6.8 million this year.
He said for the first two months of the year, they expect the arrivals number to hit more than 500,000. By the first quarter, he said they are seeing the number of visitors to hit one million.
Based on the DOT’s targets, it expects foreign visitor arrivals to subsequently increase to 8.2 million in 2015 and 10 million in 2016.
“We are confident that by the end of the term of President Aquino in 2016, revenues from tourism would have already doubled,” Jimenez said.
From P1.68 trillion in 2014, total visitor receipts is seen to reach P1.95 trillion in 2015 and P2.3 trillion in 2016.
Other initiatives to boost tourism, he said, include the endorsement of some 23 projects to the Board of Investments (BOI) and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), with a total investment cost of P48.37 billion.
In 2013, the DOT, in collaboration with Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), allocated P12 billion for about 202 tourism road projects involving 2,086 kilometers of roads and bridges.