The Philippines stood as this year’s Lunar New Year holiday destination of choice among an increasing amount of Chinese tourists. This was revealed through reports by Taipei-based travel agents and supported by data from the Philippine embassy and consulates in China.
According to Tourism Secretary Ace Durano, “This clearly indicates that the Chinese travel market finds our various destinations very attractive. The combined efforts of the Philippine travel industry and the Department are working beyond what we expected.”
Initial reports from 12 tour operators in Taipei show that packages covering Cebu, Bohol, Manila, Tagaytay, Boracay and Palawan were popular among Chinese nationals spending a week-long New Year holiday overseas. Bookings have reached as much as 62 people per tour group.
“Based on the destinations chosen, the tourists would opt for places that offer a good mix of tropical beaches, cultural attractions and interesting historical sites. What makes the Philippines stand out is that we can provide all this in one location,” said Rica Bueno, Department of Tourism (DOT) Marketing Head for Team Asia Pacific.
Bueno’s group coordinates with the country’s travel trade players, as well as the tourism attaches and diplomatic corps in Taiwan to implement assertive marketing initiatives such as travel exchanges with Chinese tour operators, trade exhibits and the launch of more charter flights.
Likewise, DOT’s Marketing Team for China, headed by Arlene Alipio, executes similar activities to reach the mainland China tourist market, which has been growing over the recent years and considered as one of the strongest in the world.
“Our alignments with the Chinese media also resulted in numerous articles about Philippine tourist attractions appearing in various local newspapers, magazines and television programs. These strategically helped in placing images and facts about our islands among the millions of Chinese audiences that we otherwise cannot reach,” Alipio noted.
Philippine Ambassador to China Sonia Brady added to this, saying that visits of top-ranking Philippine officials, particularly President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s trip last year, played a key role in promoting the country to Chinese nationals.
“They show that Philippine-China relations have reached a higher level of partnership,” Brady stressed.
Data from the Philippine Embassy in Beijing show that the number of visas issued in January 2008 grew by 229 percent compared to the same period last year.
China is currently the country’s fourth largest source of foreign arrivals. A total of 157,601 Chinese tourists visited the country in 2007, providing 5.1 percent of over-all tourist traffic.