The Philippines has signed an agreement with South Korea to strengthen tourism ties between the two countries.
The agreement was signed by the Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT) secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat and South Korean minister of culture, sports and tourism Park Yang Woo at a ceremony earlier this week at the Westin Chosun Hotel in Busan.
“With this renewed pledge on tourism cooperation between the Philippines and (South) Korea, we are hopeful we can sustain and intensify the already-strong ties with (South) Korea that we enjoy,” said Puyat.
The programme, valid from 2019 to 2024 or five years from the date of signing, aims to introduce joint programmes and activities that will bolster two-way tourism promotion and align tourism efforts between the Philippines and South Korea, facilitate deeper and meaningful interactions between Filipinos and South Koreans, and strengthen overall cooperation of the two countries on matters concerning tourist safety, security and quality assurance.
South Korea has been the top source market of the Philippines for nine consecutive years, according to Romulo-Puyat. In 2018, the Philippine DOT recorded 1.6 million arrivals from South Korea, or a 22.8 per cent share of the total 7.1 million arrivals that year.
“To sustain the momentum, the DOT will embark on a more aggressive marketing campaign to continue capturing a bigger chunk of the (South) Korean market. The DOT office in South Korea will be undertaking activities that will support the marketing efforts and collaborate with the travel trade on developing new thematic tour products for specific market segments,” Puyat said.
She added: “Also in the pipeline are product training programmes for sub-agents in Busan and Daegu. On top of this, we will encourage more airlines to fly direct to international gateways other than Manila from key cities in (South) Korea.”
According to the January and September 2019 report of the DOT, South Korea remains the biggest source of visitors for the Philippines, reaching 1.4 million arrivals – a 21 per cent growth from the same period last year. South Korean tourists make up 23.6 per cent of the current total arrivals.
Puyat attributed the growth to the improved air connectivity between the two markets, noting the creation of 14 additional flights to the Philippines from South Korea. These flights include new routes such as Daegu-Kalibu-Daegu, Incheon-Bohol-Incheon, and Muan-Clark-Muan.
She added that aside from sun and beach tourism, South Koreans come to the Philippines mostly for education tourism portfolio or English as a second language.