Philippine Ambassador to Portugal Philippe J. Lhuillier
MANILA -- Philippine Ambassador to Portugal Philippe J. Lhuillier has been helping boost tourism by promoting the Philippines as a top tourist destination and learning how to improve religious tourism in the country.
The Philippines stood out as people flocked its booth in Portugal's biggest tourism fair, the Bolsa de Turismo de Lisboa, held recently in Lisbon.
The annual tourism fair, now on its 27th year, was participated in by Portugal's national and regional tourism boards, airline companies, hotels and resorts, tour operators, travel agencies and other members of the tourism industry.
This year's edition saw more than 60,000 visitors and 400 foreign tour operators from 36 countries participating in this prestigious international tourism fair.
"The Philippines is slowly being recognized as travel destination by the Portuguese. While there has been around a 14% increase in tourist arrivals from Portugal, the numbers are still modest. There is much more room to grow these numbers over the years, all we need to do is to continue to raise awareness of the Philippines to the Portuguese people and build linkages between the travel industries of both countries so that a variety of products can be developed for the local market," Lhuillier said.
The envoy, likewise, participated in the opening session of the 3rd International Workshop on Religious Tourism in Fatima, Portugal.
Lhuillier noted that the Philippine Embassy was able to work with the Business Association of Ourem-Fatima to sponsor the participation of a Philippine tour operator and that Emirates Airlines sponsored another two tour operators from the Philippines as well.
"Religious tourism is an important sector of the Portuguese tourism industry. Fatima is a major attraction that specifically attracts around 6% of the millions of tourists that visit Portugal each year. This is a market that has good potential for the Philippines. In fact, tour operators from the Philippines were invited to participate in the workshop as the Philippines is considered by the industry as an important market and destination for religious tourism due to its strong Catholic history, faith and traditions," he added.
Due to his efforts, the Philippines is slowly being noticed by the Portuguese market as a holiday destination. Tourist arrivals from Portugal have increased by 6.82% in 2013 and by 14.88% in 2014.
Lhuillier believes that the tourist attractions of the Philippines, its rich Catholic tradition, shared Latin socio-cultural heritage and warm hospitality make the country an attractive destination for the Portuguese market.