“We are expecting a substantial boost in tourist arrivals this year given the efforts of the airline industry to cope with the competitive market. Also, initial reports of our partner stakeholders in the transport sector indicate a rising shift in focus from the OFW market to mainstream holiday travelers, which would translate to higher seat allocation for tourists,” said Ace Durano, Secretary of Tourism.
Durano noted in particular the growing Middle East traffic to the Philippines, specifically from the traditional large source markets such as Saudi Arabia and United Emirates, as well as emerging markets such as Kuwait, Qatar, and Bahrain.
“The deployment of modern fleet and facilities has allowed airlines to expand their network, increase flight capacity and service more international points, including the Middle East and destinations around the Asia-Pacific,” Durano added.
The Tourism chief expressed approval over Philippine Airlines’ (PAL) move to resume its direct flights to Riyadh next month, to take advantage of the growing number of Filipinos in the Middle East. He also hailed the 5.35 million passengers or 38.2 percent increase in passenger volume at end-September last year of Cebu Pacific, whose request to fly to Beijing thrice a week this year has recently been approved by the Civil Aviation Board (CAB).
China’s national carrier, Air China, has earlier informed the Department that it would service direct flights to Manila next month, on regular scheduled flights three times a week. Clark-based budget carrier Spirit of Manila, on the other hand, would be flying to Macau, China and Taiwan, and is also expected to start flights to Kuwait, Bahrain, and Dubai this month.
Durano also mentioned the expected increase in number of travelers from Korea as Jin Air, Korean Air’s low cost subsidiary, launches services from Korea to Clark this February.
DOT said that greater air access, coupled with competitive fares and improved accommodations, allows travelers to all the more enjoy and appreciate the country’s diverse attractions in convenience.
With summer close at hand, the Department expects more tourists, along with more attractive fares and promos from the airline industry.
Cebu’s hot and emerging market now-a-days for instance are the middle-eastern tourists from Kuwait, Iran, and other countries, mostly who come to Cebu for “educational” tourism.
China, is also one of the top growing markets for Cebu, including Russia for leisure travel, said DOT-7 regional director Patria Aurora Roa.
Last year, DOT announced that additional flights will be opened between mainland China and Taiwan to Cebu and Kalibo.
“Direct flights to their chosen destinations are a growing demand from the Chinese market which continues to be a stable source despite the crisis,” Durano said.
“With help from the Civil Aeronautics Board, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, the Bureau of Immigration, the Bureau of Customs, and our partners in the industry, we have been aggressively pushing for these additional seats, to accommodate the inbound Chinese tourists,” Durano said.