Spending by tourists seen to boost credit card use

By Donnabelle L. Gatdula, The Philippine Star

Posted at Dec 01 2012 10:31 AM | Updated as of Dec 01 2012 06:31 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Visa Inc. expects tourist spending to drive up credit card usage in the Philippines, a company official said.

Iain Jamieson, Visa country manager for the Philippines, Guam and Pacific Islands, noted that as of end-September 2012, the total amount of in-bound credit card spending to the Philippines has reached $2.2 billion, 17 percent higher than last year.

He said a recent Visa study showed that tourists are now preferring the Philippines vis-a-vis other Asian countries as their vacation destination.

The study also indicated that there has been a steady growth of Australian tourists spending more in the Philippines.

Australia is currently the fourth top tourist groups in the Philippines, trailing the United States, Japan and South Korea. Rounding up the top tourist list are those from United Kingdom, Canada, Singapore, Norway, HongKong, United Arab Emirates and China.

Jamieson said Russian tourists are also slowly coming in Asia, including the Philippines.

“The Philippines should take advantage of the very strong growth in the tourism industry. Inbound tourism is growing significantly,” he said.

Jamieson also noted that Filipino tourists or the balikbayans are also slowly taking part in tourism growth.

Recently, Visa partnered with the Bank of Philippine Islands (BPI) and the Department of Tourism (DoT) in the “Banking on Tourism” program.

The program would pave the way for the implementation of four pillars: extending DOT’s presence and accessibility through more than 800 branches of BPI; BPI to provide credit facility to tourism merchants; deployment of more BPI ATMs and point-of-sale terminals; and introduction of innovative financial products such as the DOT-BPI More Fun Prepaid Visa Card.

BPI senior vice president for card banking group head Maria Cristina Go said the prepaid card has made tourism even more fun in the Philippines, allowing tourists to have souvenir customized Visa Card and, at the same time, secured access for cashless transactions.