Wanted: more Singaporean tourists in the Philippines

With an eye on growing Singapore into a bigger visitor source market by attracting the niche as well as repeat segments, the Philippines’ Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) conducted a sales mission in the city earlier this week to introduce fresh destinations to outbound agents.

In 2016 Singaporeans made up just 2.9 per cent of arrivals to the Philippines, a dismal number for the TPB, which has set up its 2017 aim to grow the figure to 3.1 per cent, an increment of 7,000 arrivals. This, according to TPB’s deputy COO, marketing and promotions Maricon Ebron, was “easily achievable, particularly if we get the meetings market”.

She elaborated: “We’re trying to position the Philippines to appeal to the Singapore MICE market. Singapore is so near us, we can probably lure some of the MNCs to come to the Philippines to hold their board meetings. But this is just one of the few segments we are targeting.”

The TPB is promoting new destinations like Legazpi; Cagsawa church ruins with Mount Mayon volcano in the background

Other niche segments the TPB hopes to lure include golfing, diving, adventure sports like mountain climbing, and marine-based activities such as game-fishing and surfing.

When asked how those segments can be translated into visitor numbers, Ebron shared: “We have to keep on advertising online and offline, and getting the right people – like the golf and dive segments – to notice. We’re also introducing new activities such as surfing; I’m sure there’s a market in Singapore for that as people diversify their interests.

Conducting regular sales missions, attending tradeshows as well as organising fam trips for both agents and bloggers are ways the TPB has identified to raise awareness of the Philippines, she added.

As well, she notes that repeat visitors from Singapore is another segment the TPB wants to tap, especially as the country is seen as a prime market source within South-east Asia, thanks to its stronger currency and relatively advanced economy.

Select Travel Services’ director, John Emsermann, agreed: “The Philippines is very affordable for Singaporeans, and is a place where five-star hotel rates begin at US$90… A lot of Singaporeans have not been to the Philippines, and the market is huge.”

Emsermann hence wants to “use a variety of entertainment, from shopping to soft adventure, and the proximity of the country to lure Singaporeans”, who are usually FITs who are sophisticated and educated.

The TPB is also promoting new destinations such as Palawan’s Puerto Princessa, and Legazpi in the Bicol region. Both destinations recently had their main airports upgraded and expanded, and can now accommodate direct flights.

National carrier Philippine Airlines also plans to support the TPB’s aim to grow arrivals from Singapore.

Marie Jemma Saranillo, country manager Singapore/Indonesia/Malaysia, Philippine Airlines, shared: “We will come up with competitive fares as Singapore is a price-driven market. We will also promote the Philippines through promotional tie-ups with the private sector such as hotels and travel agents, as well as create in-house packages.”

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