(PNA photo by Joey Razon)

MANILA – The Philippines is seeking the support of Korean tourism players in its effort to ramp up the promotion of the country as a safe and fun destination in the new normal. 

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat led the Department of Tourism (DOT) delegation to Korea from March 28 until April 1 and met with Korean tour operators like Kyowon KRT, Modu Tours, and Hana Tours and representatives of government agencies like the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
The delegation also met with representatives from the aviation industry, including Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, Asiana, Air Seoul, T’way, Jin Air, Jeju Air and Fly Gangwon.

The DOT is seeking to tap the Korean travel market, the country’s largest, before the pandemic, to boost tourist arrivals from that country. The tourism chief pitched the Philippines’ newest tourism products and activities that will likely appeal to the Korean travel market in the new normal.

“The Philippines is more than ready to welcome our Korean tourists. Our entry requirements are one of the safest and most relaxed in Asia,” said Puyat in a briefing held by the DOT for some 80 Korean tourism industry players and media representatives at the Lotte Hotel, Seoul, on March 30.

“It is understandable that some may still be reluctant to travel amid the pandemic but let me reassure you that the Philippine Government and tourism industry have instituted measures to keep everyone safe,” she added. 

Fully vaccinated foreign tourists with negative Covid-19 test results need not quarantine or undergo testing upon arrival. Unvaccinated children below 12 may travel to the Philippines with their fully vaccinated parents.
 
Puyat also underscored the high vaccination rate among the country’s tourism workers and stakeholders, which is now at 97 percent nationwide, and the decreasing daily rate of Covid-19 infection in the country.

“With the majority of the country’s tourism workers being fully vaccinated, we have begun rolling out our booster shots for added protection. We hope that these efforts will help entice visitors to return, especially now that we have developed many new tourism circuits catering to the interests of tourists in this new era of travel,” Puyat added.

The Philippine government took advantage of the tourism lull brought about by the pandemic by developing a total of 112 new tourism circuits across the country, introducing the best travel products and experiences, including culinary, history, nature, wellness, and farm tourism. Puyat announced that 102 more tourism circuits in 14 regions across the country are undergoing development.

Puyat also apprised participants of the DOT’s latest campaign “It's More Fun with You” to welcome back foreign tourists and showcase the preparations that the Department made during the pandemic, covering both safety measures and tourism circuits. 

“In this campaign, we highlight the preparations that our tourism industry has carried out while travel was put on hold. We will also feature exciting destinations to visit, activities to experience, and culinary wonders to try. We have missed you; our destinations have also missed you, and the Philippines would certainly be more fun if you come and visit us,” Puyat said.

WTTC Summit

Similar to the DOT’s seven-day mission to Japan last month, Puyat sought the participation of Korean tourism officials and industry players in the upcoming World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit, which the Philippines will host for the first time in Manila on April 20-22.

“We hope that tourism professionals and the media from Korea also come, attend, and enjoy. With the theme Rediscovering Travel, the Summit will provide an opportunity to address the social, environmental, and economic challenges as we rediscover global travel amid this pandemic,” Puyat said.

Top source market

Though fourth in the ranking of arrivals in the Philippines in the past two months with only 5,551 visitors, Korean tourists registered some 1.98 million arrivals in 2019, which is considered the highest arrival figure among all markets ever recorded in the country. 

Other than its natural beauty, the lure of the Philippines to South Korean tourists can be partly attributed to the proximity of the Philippines, which takes only three and a half hours by air. The emergence of low-cost carriers, resulting in frequent flights and reasonable travel costs, and good quality of service have also attracted Korean tourists to the Philippines. (PR)