THE KOREA Tourism Organisation (KTO) has established a Manila office, which will seek to grow Filipino arrivals through unique tour packages and the promotion of medical, MICE and winter tourism.
Sangyong Zhu, director of KTO Manila, told TTG Asia e-Daily that the Korean Wave – commonly known as Hallyu – had gained popularity in the Philippines, driving up travel demand for South Korea.
Arrivals from the Philippines have been growing annually at an average of 6.4 per cent. More than 337,000 Filipinos visited South Korea last year, making the Philippines the fifth largest inbound market for South Korea, after Japan, China, the US and Taiwan.
The office has started discussions with local outbound tour operators to develop itineraries that will include “essentials” such as royal palaces, amusement parks, film locations for TV shows, folk villages, UNESCO heritage sites and shopping opportunities.
The destination, which has been successful in reaching out to medical tourism markets such as Russia, Kazakhstan, China, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia and the Middle East, will also promote skin care and plastic surgery to middle- and high-income females in the Philippines.
Leveraging on South Korea’s snowy winter season which does not exist in the Philippines, KTO Manila will also feature ski resorts and skiing opportunities in its destination promotions.
“Ski resorts in South Korea are very competitive, with quality facilities and reasonable rates compared to other countries,” Zhu said.
As well, KTO Manila will capitalise on South Korea’s strength as a global MICE destination – it ranked sixth in the Union of International Associations’ top 10 international meeting destinations of 2011 – to entice corporate groups and events.
Manila KTO’s efforts will get a booster shot from the Philippine Civil Aeronautics Board’s move to add 9,500 seats to South Korea per week, all to be operated by Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines and Zest Air. Korean Air will further enhance air options with the reintroduction of a third daily Incheon-Manila service from October 28.