DUBAI: Manila’s Department of Tourism (DoT) is embarking on a platform of strategies and activities in the Middle East this year to prop regional tourism arrivals across the Philippine archipelago at 100,000 by the end of 2018.
Philippine Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo said that as Middle Easterners visit the Southeast Asian nation for leisure or holiday, business and medical tourism, the most number of visitors in 2017 were from Saudi Arabia at 54,716 and the UAE at 16,399.
A total of 89,932 locals from the region visited the Philippines last year and which included those from four other countries namely Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait.
The breakdown: Bahrain (3,795), Egypt (2,000), Jordan (745) and Kuwait (8,082).
Their favourite destinations outside of the capital city of Manila in Luzon Island are the island town of Boracay in Aklan, Western Visayas, and the island province of Cebu in Central Visayas.
The tourism arrivals from the region only include the locals as the number of international tourism arrivals in the Philippines is determined by the passports of the travelers in accordance to international tourism practice.
Teo said DoT is “pushing for new and underrated destinations with the help of an expanded marketing plan, improved human resources and service standards.”
These include more halal and green tourism facilities as well as thematic products namely farm-faith-sports-adventure tourism approaches.
For this, lined up are awareness campaigns on halal tourism, luxury/women market, more family packages, health and wellness, and the Philippines for the young travelers.
While DoT re-launched the “Bring Home A Friend” campaign in the UAE in 2017 whereby Filipinos were encouraged to invite Emiratis and expatriates to their country, the government agency is set to participate in regional business-to-business tourism and exhibitions namely the MICE Arabia Congress in Dubai this month, the Riyadh Travel Fair in April and the Arabian Travel Mart, also in Dubai in May.
There will be strategic meetings to discuss partnerships and collaborations with key Middle Eastern carriers.
The Philippines recorded a total number of 6,620,908 international tourism arrivals in 2017, a little over the projected 6.5 million target and up from the 5,967,005 record of 2016.