MANILA -- South Korea and the Philippines are planning to continue talks on the implementation of their 2019 agreement on tourism cooperation, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said Saturday.

Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco and her Korean counterpart Second Vice-Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Cho Yongman acknowledged the need to resume discussions during a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the 11th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Tourism Ministerial Meeting in Bangkok on August 19.

"The pandemic has upended many plans including that of the tourism industry and to manifest our interest to ensure that our plans for cooperation are translated into successful programs to benefit both our countries, we hereby express our willingness to host the joint working group meeting for the implementing program in the Philippines," Frasco said.

The Implementation Program for the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Tourism Cooperation, derailed by the ongoing pandemic, was inked in November 2019 and is valid until 2024, or five years from the date of signing.

It aims to bolster two-way tourism promotion, align tourism efforts, and increase engagement on tourism safety, security, and quality assurance between the two nations.

The agency said Manila and Seoul are eager to continue their partnership and sharing of best practices in the English as Second Language (ESL) program, film tourism, and dive tourism, among others.

Yongman, for his part, said Korea recognizes the Philippines as an "important partner" and cited the two nations' decades-old ties.

Expecting more Koreans visiting the Philippines, particularly Frasco's hometown Cebu, the Korean official urged the country to ensure the safety and convenience of tourists.

Korean tourists registered some 1.98 million arrivals in 2019, considered to be the highest arrival figure among all markets recorded in the country.

Since borders reopened in February 2022, a total of 112,603 South Korean nationals have so far visited the Philippines. (PNA)