Philippine Department of Tourism targets tourism boost in East Malaysia

> Jorda-Apo (topmost row, centre) joins delegates from the Philippine Department of Tourism, Filipino private sector company representatives and local tourism players at the tourism road show.

KUCHING: The Philippine Department of Tourism is seeking to boost tourism in the country, with particular focus on East Malaysia as this region is geographically closer to the Philippines.

Outlining the measures being taken by the department, director and group head of North America and Asia-Pacific region Maria Corazon Jorda-Apo revealed, “Last year, 79,694 Malaysians visited the Philippines. This is the highest visitor arrivals figure on record.

“The figure for the first nine months (January to September) of this year is about 69,000 arrivals, representing 18 per cent growth when compared with the same period last year.

“We project the number of arrivals to hit 85,000 which will be another record high,” she said confidently at the first ever Philippine tourism roadshow in East Malaysia, held here yesterday.

She said that the department had actively promoted Philippine tourism products in West Malaysia but was now ‘drumming up’ more promotional activities in East Malaysia.

Malaysia is among the Philippines’ top 12 sources of foreign visitors for the past five years. With the growing  trend of regional travel and the emergence of more budget carriers servicing the region, the Philippines is looking at getting more tourists from East Malaysia.

East Malaysia is geographically closer to the Philippines, with a flight from Kota Kinabalu to Manila taking two hours whereas a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Manila would take three hours and 45 minutes.

This closer proximity provided shorter travel time and lower flight cost, adding the value of tourism for East Malaysians.

Manila, the main gateway to the Philippines, is currently augmented by a secondary gateway in Cebu City with both providing access to key cities in Asia.

The destination presently being used by AirAsia to operate flights linking Kota Kinabalu and the Philippines is Clark Airport (70 kilometres from Manila) which was the third gateway in the country.

Cebu Pacific Air, one of the two flag carriers of the country is currently looking at the potential of Kuching to be part of its regional routes opening more opportunities for East Malaysians to travel to the Philippines as well as Filipinos travelling to Sarawak.

The Philippine product presentation was attended by some 50 travel agents from Kuching who learned about the top tourist destinations in the Philippines, namely, Manila, Cebu, Bohol, Boracay and Palawan.

Joining forces with the Philippine Department of Tourism were representatives from nine private sector companies, namely Image Travel Corporation, Happy Travel, Pan Pacific Travel, Shroff Travel, Marco Polo Cebu, Resorts World Manila, Waterfront Hotel and Casino Cebu, Waterfront Insular Hotel Davao, and Cebu Pacific Air.

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