Philippines readies to play ATF host next year

GIVEN that 99.2 per cent of total foreign arrivals last year travelled to the Philippines by plane, airlines and infrastructure development are therefore a priority for the destination, said Benito Benzon, undersecretary of tourism development, Philippine Department of Tourism.

Benzon was speaking at a media conference at ATF 2015, where the Philippines revealed further plans to boost the country’s infrastructure and promotion efforts in the run-up to hosting the next ATF in Manila.

Tourism secretary of the Philippines, Ramon Jimenez, told the Daily the refurbishment of Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s Terminal 1 will be completed by 2015 and Terminal 3 has begun full operations. An airport skyway connecting Terminal 1 to the new district Entertainment City, where ATF 2016 will be held, will also be completed this year.

Bengzon also announced that airport upgrading in destinations like Kalibo and Palawan are expected to finish in the next 12 to 24 months to offer travellers “seamless connectivity”.

The country is also drilling down on niches such as English as a second language, which sees many South Koreans coming to study English, besides cruising, medical tourism and diving.

On the promotions front, the Philippines is now being site-specific. “Our ‘power branding’ phase reached fairly high levels of awareness for the Philippines, and it’s now time to push for awareness for specific areas,” said Bengzon, adding that advertisements now feature destinations like Camisur or Boracay.

Another focus is the MICE market, which Jimenez said is an “extension of the It’s more fun in the Philippines campaign”. The Fun Works campaign is already live on media and will support the Philippines’ aim to boost this segment with ATF 2016.

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