DOT still struggles to lure back Hong Kong tourists

By Estrella Torres, BusinessMirror

Posted at Jun 19 2014 07:23 AM | Updated as of Jun 19 2014 03:23 PM

MANILA - Tourism Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez Jr. said tourist arrivals from Hong Kong had risen last year after the government revved up the promotion of tourist sites to new segments of travelers, mostly expatriates, divers and solo travelers.

He said the Hong Kong tourist market remains the top 10 source of foreign tourists to the country, adding that tourism figures rebounded with a 6.2-percent growth in 2013 compared to 5.8 percent in 2012.

Jimenez is leading a sales mission to Hong Kong to signal the country’s serious efforts to welcome back tourists and travelers and signify the importance of this market for Philippine tourism.

The sales mission will feature five of the country’s top tourist destinations, namely, Boracay, Davao, Cebu, Bohol and Palawan.

“We should show the world that our country does not only consist of one large mass of land but of 7,107 beautiful islands. The plan is to invite people to experience [the Philippines not one way, not two ways, but three ways. It is a triple destination: Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao—distinct in their offerings and distinct in their development contributing to a total [tourism experience,” Jimenez said.

He described the Philippines as by itself a multicity, multiexperience destination.

The tourism chief is set to meet with heads of Hong Kong Travel Industry Council, the Hong Kong Security Bureau (HKSB) and the HK Tourist Board.

The Department of Tourism and the Philippine consulate in Hong Kong will host a reception that will bring in world-class talents and a simple appreciation ceremony lauding the efforts and sustained collaboration with Hong Kong partners, supporters and top producers. The program will include the recognition of the Hong Kong-based Philippine Dive Specialists group.

“We are going full speed in promoting tourism in the tourist-rich Hong Kong market—and in the rest of the Asia-Pacific region. We ought to waste no time, as this is the most perfect time for our country and the HKSB to turn a new page in our bilateral relations. We must also take advantage of the increasing global interest on the Asia- Pacific region and the ensuing opportunities arising from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Economic Integration in 2015,” Jimenez said.

Bilateral relations between the Philippines and China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) took a bitter turn in August 2010, when 25 Hong Kong residents on a tour in Manila were taken hostage by a disgruntled policeman. Eight of the tourists subsequently perished in a bungled rescue attempt.

In April Hong Kong Chief Executive Chun Ying Leung accepted on behalf of the Hong Kong SAR government the apology delivered by Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada over the incident.