THE Czech Tourism Board (CTB) early this week delivered its first presentation to Philippine outbound operators in the hopes of drumming up initial business from the leisure and pilgrimage markets.
“The Filipino market now is very small – we’re talking about around 2,500 visitors,” said Korea-based Michal Procházka, CTB director, who had arrived with a contingent of six visiting the Philippines for the first time: Royal Prague Travel, DIR Bohemia, IncoCzech Travel Prague, Destination, Asiana Global Travel, and the Shrine of the Infant Jesus of Prague.
He added: “In the Philippines, we see an interest in luxury and incentives, special tours, people talking about sacred places and shopping. We have to discover what the market is.
“Another reason why this project was developed is that there are many South Koreans in the Philippines, and our South Korean market is very big. Last year, we had about 150,000 South Koreans coming to the Czech Republic; this year we may hit 180,000 or more.”
He revealed that while the South Korean market for 1Q2014 had grown 43 per cent year-on-year, it dipped to 10.5 per cent in the next quarter following the sinking of Savol ferry, which hit many industries and tourism.
Nevertheless, CTB has mounted an ongoing campaign promoting Prague for South Korean honeymooners. South Korea is currently the destination’s fastest-growing market together with China.
Irene Gregorio, managing director, Travel Excellence Corp, formerly the Philippine GSA for Czech Airlines, said: “The initial market from here (the Philippines) will always think of the Czech Republic as a pilgrimage destination because of the Infant Jesus of Prague, then leisure, per se; then you go for the specifics, such as corporate incentives.”
CTB opened offices in Shanghai and Seoul in 2012 and 2013 respectively. Offices have since been opened in Beijing, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.