PH eyed as divorcee haven?

By Mayen Jaymalin, The Philippine Star

Posted at Nov 28 2011 08:32 AM | Updated as of Nov 28 2011 10:02 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines as a divorcee haven? In an effort to lure more long-staying tourists in the country, the Department of Tourism (DOT) is developing the Philippines as a destination for divorcees or those trying to recover from broken relationships.

Tourism Assistant Secretary Domingo Ramon Enerio III said those running away from domestic turmoil are among the target markets of the DOT for its long-stay tourism program.

“At this time, the Philippines is among the few remaining countries that still prohibit divorce, so we think this is a big market that we hope to tap,” he said.

“If we can be a wedding or honeymoon destination, we can be vice versa and become a destination for those in search of personal fulfillment, including those… in flight from domestic turmoil,” he added.

He said the Philippines can offer both relaxation and adventure to these tourists.

“Our destinations can provide them the relaxed and calm surrounding that they are looking (for), or if they want adventure, we can also offer it to them,” Enerio said.

Aside from divorcees, he said, other possible markets for long stay tourism are retirees, semi-retirees looking for investment venues, medical tourists, those escaping from the cold winter season, and those who have affluent children.

“This is an untapped type of market at this time,” Enerio said.

The envisioned long-stay tourism program encourages tourists to stay in the country from three to six months. The current definition of long-stay tourism in the country is a visit from between two weeks to three months.

According to Enerio, the DOT has developed the so-called long stay tourism program as a stepping stone for the retirement program of the Philippine government.

He said the long stay or retirement program is expected to capture at least 10 percent of the projected 10 million foreign tourists to visit the country by 2016.

The Philippine government, Enerio said, has long been promoting the Philippines as a retirement haven for elderly foreigners and Filipinos who have changed their citizenship after working abroad for many years. 

The long stay or retirement program for foreigners will take advantage of the projection that senior citizens worldwide, those 66 years old and above are expected to reach one billion by 2030.

Since the launch of the retirement program several years ago, more than 7,000 foreigners have secured special retirement visas. A majority of these were Chinese and Korean nationals.

The Retirement and Healthcare Coalition (RHC) projected that the number of foreigners who would opt to retire in the country may reach 100,000 in the next five years.

RHC executive director Marc Daubenbuechel said the Philippines government’s retirement program for foreign nationals is expected to generate at least $200 million in revenues in five years.