DOT kicks off ‘twin-destination’ promos between PH, other Asian destinations

MANILA-- The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Wednesday said that it has started implementing 'twin-destination' promos between the Philippines and other countries in Asia Pacific to spur tourism arrivals from North America.

DOT Secretary Wanda Teo made this announcement before Asian-American travel agents in a recent business mission in San Jose, California, citing a 2016 DOT survey which showed that American tourists visiting the Philippines usually connect thru Hong Kong, while some of them fly next to Singapore.

The survey also showed that American tourists also prefer Bangkok and to Kuala Lumpur as connecting flights to the Philippines.

In the same business mission, Teo solicited their support in enhancing people-to-people exchanges and tourism activities between the Philippines and Asia-Pacific countries.

"Asia Pacific is considered an 'exotic area,' and everybody now is looking at the region as their new destination, particularly most Americans who have been to Europe, South America. And it is only now that they are able to discover the Asia Pacific region, Teo was quoted saying.

She enlisted support from various stakeholders in implementing twin-destination tour packages, one of which is flag-carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL), which has provided airfares at discounted prices.

The DOT chief also said that Eva Air, which flies to Cebu; Asiana Airlines, and just recently Korean Airlines which has added flights from San Francisco going to Manila, are also among the airline partners which have been very supportive of the DOT in conducting its familiarization trips, and soon the Balikbayan packages.

Improved connectivity

Citing data from the DOT, Teo said that Philippine air connectivity has improved significantly over the years, which has seen the entry of China Air, Eva Air connecting Manila via Taipei and to Cebu-Bohol-Siquijor; Korean Air and Aseana Air also fly frequently to Manila via Clark, and between Clark-Davao; and Clark-Boracay.

Twinning domestic destinations like Clark with other Asian destinations would be profitable as it is already a secondary gateway to Laoag, Vigan, and La Union, extending even to Baguio via TPLEX, Teo said.

Connectivity of our country's secondary gateways has improved much better and making it even more convenient to travel, she added noting that it could also pave the way for less-known and less-traveled destinations to be noticed.

Meanwhile, Teo said that the West Coast has already committed to produce tourists all over the US to twin destinations of Manila and Bangkok in October this year.

DOT San Francisco is also pairing off Manila with Vietnam, with PAL offering special rates for Manila-Saigon, US-MLA-Siagon. PAL which has started giving out special rate promotions for Thailand, will soon be complemented by a network that will carry all tour packages for the country beginning the last quarter of this year.

Teo expressed confidence that twinning Philippine destinations will not only bring in foreign arrivals especially from North America, but also open up opportunities for domestic tourism and secondary gateways.

DOT attache in San Francisco Purificacion Molintas echoed Teo noting that the agency will take advantage of the Americans' interest on the Philippines.

We should strike while the iron is hot and craft all the strategies that can capture the market to the Philippines, Molintas said.

DOT San Francisco has recently started implementing this twin-destination promos in collaboration with DOT Los Angeles targeting Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia.

California and Vancouver are among hosts of the most diverse Asian diasporas in North America, making them perfect markets for the program.

Data from the DOT showed that US places second as the top foreign visitor market of the Philippines with 14.87 percent of the total market share or 428,767 arrivals in the first five months of 2017.

This figure is a 12.78 percent increase compared to US arrivals in the same period last year with only 377,595.

Teo said that while destination twinning has already been an established program of the DOT in the recent years, the agency has been working to expand the reach of its strategy to new emerging markets like Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia, among others.

In the case of San Francisco, Teo said that it is the very first time they are touching base with Thai and Vietnamese travel markets, only this year.

Our target for them is to increase these markets by 10 percent in the next two years, Teo said.

Source: Philippine News Agency