PH finds way to attract HK tourists despite blacklist

Posted at Jan 29 2013 06:18 PM | Updated as of Jan 30 2013 02:29 AM

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MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Tourism on Tuesday said it has found a way to work around the tourism blacklist imposed by Hong Kong authorities on the Philippines.

Tourism Assistant Secretary Benito Bengzon said it is unfortunate that the Hong Kong Security Bureau has decided to keep the Philippines in its blacklist as a tourist destination. However, he also noted that more Hong Kong tourists are actually coming to the country.

"We found innovative ways of working around this current situation. The black alert has not been lifted yet and as such, tour operators and  travel agents in Hong Kong are not able to sell packages to the Philippines," he told ANC's Top Story.

Bengzon said the Philippines is promoting more aggressively "to the FIT market, the individual travelers as well as those who come to the PH for special interest packages such as diving, mountaineering and adventure."

The tourism official said the country has already rebounded in terms of number of tourists from Hong Kong last year. He said a total of 120,000 Hong Kong tourists visited the Philippines last year, which is a 6% increase from 2011.

He said tourists from mainland China also increased by 5% in 2012 despite a slowdown from May to November.

"The reason for this is we were able to register a very high growth rate during the first 4 months of 2012 and we were also able to get the charter flights back to the Philippines beginning first week of December," he said.

The official said Korea remains the number 1 resource for tourists in the Philippines, followed by the US, Japan, China and Taiwan.

He also noted the Philippines was recently chosen as the most romantic destination by a Chinese paper.

"These are all very good indications that the Philippines continues to be an attractive destination to the Chinese," he said.

ANC TOP STORY, January 29, 2013