A sneak peek of the year 2017′s Philippine tourism programs is the 65th Miss Universe pageant’s kick-off activities featuring candidates from 12 countries.
In a press statement, Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo noted: “It gave a sneak-peek of the Philippines’ best-kept secrets as a world-class tourist destination, an ideal and safe haven for international visitors.”
The country’s hosting of the prestigious beauty contest in January 2017 is part of DOT’s plans to boost visitor arrivals to the country. According to Sec. Teo, the Miss Universe candidates’ trip to Oslob, Cebu, for one, defied a travel advisory against visits to Southern Cebu.
Despite warnings against visiting the Philippines, tourist arrival figures have risen as the country hits its target of six million tourist arrivals this year, based on data gathered at international airports.
Teo said she is hopeful that with 4.7 million arrivals logged as of September, the Philippines’ aim of having a total of 5.4 million international visitors will be met in 2017.
Teo added, “More tourists will come next year because the Miss Universe event has placed us on the world map. After the President Duterte’s state visit, China lifted the travel advisory and Chinese arrivals have increased.”
More Chinese tourists
Besides staging the Miss Universe Pageant, signing the contract for the third edition of the prestigious Madrid Fusion Manila culinary, the country’s hosting of the 50th ASEAN Summit, and hosting high-level conferences of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the DOT is also actively campaigning for more foreign tourist arrivals in the country next year.
Secretary Teo said she expects up to 3 million Chinese tourists to visit the country in 2017 after her successful official visit to Beijing, China in October and as part of President Rodrigo Duterte’s team of government officials and select members from the private sector. During Secretary Teo’s visit, a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on Tourism Cooperation between the Philippines and China was signed. The MOA opens the tourism deparment’s opportunity to market the Philippines to potential Chinese travelers.
It was also reported that for more air connectivity, several direct flights to the different regions of the country were launched this year.
Since November, Laoag has been welcoming around 400 Chinese tourists per week through China Eastern Airlines’ Guangzhou-Laoag chartered flights.
Philippine Airlines (PAL) also took its maiden flight from the Changi International Airport to Cebu in December.
PAL inaugurated its daily Cebu-Caticlan and Cebu-Clark (via Caticlan) flights, bringing the total of domestic destinations it flies to and from Cebu to 10. It also launched its first direct flight between Cebu and Singapore, its sixth international destination served from the Visayan gateway city.
Sec. Teo shared that she also expects more Cambodia travelers to visit the country in 2017. DOT and the Ministry of Tourism of the Kingdom of Cambodia just recently signed an agreement that will start a series of programs that aims to revitalize tourism relations between the two countries.
To further encourage more tourists to visit the Philippines, the DOT has raised its target annual visitor arrivals over six years until the end of the Duterte administration’s term in 2022.