ASIAN destinations continue to command high interest among Philippine tourists, with Hong Kong and Singapore at the top of the list.
“The mainstream destinations are Hong Kong and Singapore, simply because of flight frequencies,” said Tim Tio, sales and outbound marketing manager, Travelite Travel & Tours Philippines.
Philippine arrivals to Hong Kong grew 15.6 per cent year-on-year from January to July 2012. Singapore welcomed 677,681 Philippine visitors in 2011 – slightly more than Hong Kong’s 659,829 – and has 154 flights from the Philippines compared to Hong Kong’s 148 as of last month.
According to Philippine travel consultants, Resorts World Sentosa and Universal Studios were Singapore’s main drawcards in 2011, while the new Legoland in Johor Bahru and the upcoming Hello Kitty attraction also provide selling points.
“I am already selling Legoland tours through my Singapore operator, and transfers can be done from any hotel in Singapore to Legoland and back,” said Alex Divinagracia, general manager at GlobalWings Travel & Tours, Philippines.
However, a 25.6 per cent drop in Philippine arrivals to Malaysia in 2011 – 362,101 – has prompted Tourism Malaysia (TM) to adopt a more aggressive stance this year by launching product seminars in Manila, Clark, Cebu and Davao, as well as tactical promotions for the F1 Malaysia Grand Prix and MICE groups. Numbers seem to be bouncing back: Philippine arrivals to Malaysia reached 43,423 in June 2012 versus 26,493 in June 2011.
New airlinks and higher frequencies have also helped, said TM marketing executive, Katrina Bianca Tamayo. Airphil Express, Zest Air and SEAir started flying to Malaysia this year, while Cebu Pacific Air is launching flights from Cebu to Kuala Lumpur in December.
Meanwhile, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is attracting ecotourists from the Philippines to areas like Krabi, Khao Lak, Koh Chang and Koh Kood.
According to Kanok Kittika Kritwutikon, TAT director for the Philippines and Singapore, a six-agency consortium was formed last year to sell Krabi, while this year’s strategy is to position Thailand as a gateway to Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. TAT also works with the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau to woo the golf segment.
Thailand’s arrivals from the Philippines grew 8.9 per cent from 2010 to reach 268,375 visitors last year.