Published on : Thursday, February 1, 2018
The friendlier ties with China also help boost tourism in a country that lags Southeast Asian neighbours in visitors.
The “Bring Home a Friend” program encourages all the Filipinos to invite foreigners to visit the country and stand a chance to win prizes, such as gift certificates worth 200,000 pesos ($3,900), a Toyota Vios car and a 7 million peso-condominium in Manila.
This newest initiative, which began in October, will help the government meet its target of 7.4 million arrivals in 2018 from a record 6.6 million last year, Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo.
There are only about 6 million tourists visited the Philippines in the year 2016, compared with 26.8 million for Malaysia and 32.6 million for Thailand.
The rickety infrastructure and safety concerns, particularly in the south of the country, where a longstanding insurgency persists — have discouraged tourists.
Among the favored spots for visitors are the white-sand beaches of Boracay and diving sites like El Nido.
The Chinese travellers are also discovering the Philippines as relations warm under President Rodrigo Duterte’s so-called pivot to the mainland. As there is a friendly ties with China, Philippines expect to have more influx of Chinese tourists this year.
China became the nation’s biggest tourist market after South Korea last year, surpassing the U.S., Teo, 65, said in Manila on January 24, 2018. They’re going not just for the beaches but also for its casinos as gamblers try their luck in Manila.
The United Arab Emirates, India, and Canada are emerging tourism markets, the minister, who was a former flight attendant and travel agency operator. The tourism department of Philippines is also considering the boosting the nation’s attraction as a sports and culinary destination.
The government of Philippines aims to produce 473 billion pesos in revenue from foreign visitors and 2.13 trillion pesos from local tourists this year.
By 2022, the tourism target is 12 million tourists. The tourism industry of the country is accounted for 8.6 percent of gross domestic product in 2016.
According to Teo, the poor infrastructure and weak promotion are the real challenges, along with the two decades of experience in the travel sector.