Monday, August 29, 2005

Chinese visitors boost RP tourism

The Philippine Star 08/30/2005

A dramatic upsurge in the number of Chinese arrivals has made China one of the largest sources of tourists to the Philippines, according to figures released by the Department of Tourism (DOT).

This growth has been fueled by the DOT’s initiatives in China, supported by Philippines Airlines (PAL) and Monitor Group, a leading global management consulting firm.

As one of the largest and fastest-growing outbound tourism markets globally, China is expected to produce an estimated 100 million travelers per year by 2020. Despite the importance of this market, the Philippines only captured approximately 0.2 percent of total Chinese travelers in 2003.

In 2004, Chinese-Filipino industrialist Lucio Tan identified the importance of the China opportunity for the Philippines. Tan suggested to the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry to commission Monitor Group to formulate a strategy for the DOT and the travel industry to boost tourism from China.

According to Tan, "China is a very important market with lots of economic opportunity. Focusing on China grows the entire tourism pie — all travel industry participants benefit and the economy grows."

Based on the study, which identified target segments, prioritized specific geographic markets and developed marketing strategies, the DOT designed and implemented six major campaigns: building an effective China organization, reinforcing the Philippines "brand," driving trade participation, customizing products to meet Chinese tourists’ needs, pushing for priority policy support and driving DOT and private sector collaboration through the establishment of the China Tourism Action Group.

As an active participant in the group, PAL has already taken action by aggressively supporting the campaigns, and planning the launch of a direct route from Beijing to Manila from October.

These campaigns have generated impressive results. The first half of 2005 saw 45,789 Chinese arrivals in Philippines, already exceeding the 2004 total. May and June experienced unprecedented increases of 211.2 percent and 205.8 percent respectively, as compared to corresponding periods last year. At this rate, by the end of 2005, China could become the fourth largest source country of tourists to the Philippines, joining the United States, Korea and Japan.

"The new China strategy has helped us focus our resources invested in China, allowing us to reap the market opportunities," said Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano. "The encouraging results give us a boost to continue and intensify the existing initiatives."

"We are pleased to be engaged in this important China marketing initiative together with the DOT. Our efforts have clearly differentiated the Philippines’ positioning in the China market, and have led to visible results. This will further boost the tourism industry for the Philippines," said PAL president Jaime Bautista.

"We are proud to be part of the successful program and to help the Philippines reinforce its position in the booming China outbound tourism market," said David Pacis, vice president of Monitor Group Asia. "We look forward to continuing our collaboration with the DOT, Mr. Tan, and the Federation to make the Philippines one of the most desired destinations for Chinese travelers."

Looking forward, the challenge shifts, says Durano: "We will begin to turn our attention from creating demand to improving the tourism infrastructure in the Philippines to ensure that each visitor has a wonderful experience. We hope we can count on Mr. Tan and the rest of the China Tourism Action Group to support us."

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