More China charters for this Philippines-based operator as travel ban eases

LAND tour operator Luxus Pacific Travel and Tours in Makati City is planning to launch charter flights for China groups and FITs in July as China softens the embargo on travel to the Philippines.

Observing signs that the latest China travel advisory on the Philippines is easing, the company’s senior vice president for tourism business planning and development, Alex Stutely, said: “We were hoping to start operating charter flights from China to the Philippines at the end of last year, but due to the travel ‘ban’ and the political situation, we had to delay the launch.”

During the period the plan was deferred, and Luxus Pacific, subisidiary of the Hong Kong-headquartered Luen Thai Enterprises, served more China FITs.

“Up until last month and early this month, there had been very tight control over sending groups…but now it seems the China National Tourism Administration and the China government are easing up on the restrictions,” Stutely continued, adding that Luen Thai has brought 100,000 China tourists to Saipan, and the company “has plans in the region of 200,000 (visitors)” eventually.

“It’s a phased expansion. We’ll start with one source city in China, one source destination in the Philippines, add more, and expand over the course of two, three years,” he said.

After operating Hong Kong and China outbound tours for about 11 years and investing three years into expansions in Saipan where it operates three hotels as well as Guam, where it operates one, Luen Thai is now widening its Pacific island operations to Hawaii, Palau, and the Philippines, where it will also serve luxury clients.

Charter services for four- to five-day group and FIT vacationers will be hired from both source and destination carriers, Stutely said. Boracay is still the most popular destination, followed by Bohol and Palawan.

The three destinations are also the top recommendations for luxury clients, who will be offered vacations in El Nido and exclusive flight services from boutique inter-island carriers.

“The ongoing Chinese government crackdown on corruption and gambling will not have any significant impact on our plans,” Stutely emphasised. “Our focus is primarily on offering high-quality beach holidays for couples and families, not on selling gaming or casino-related packages.”

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