Philippines: New President, New Impulsion for Tourism

“More Fun in The Philippines” campaign a great success… but what’s next?

With a new president in the Philippines, a new policy for tourism is in the making. The election of Rodrigo Duterte last June translated into a new government taking over the power in the Philippines. The elected president already declared in his speech to the nation his commitment to tourism, making it a priority sector to the country’s economic development.

So far, Philippines tourism in 2016 continues to reap the benefits of its dynamic campaign “It is More Fun in the Philippines”, launched in 2012. The campaign gained strength in 2015 and 2016 thanks to a Visit Philippines Year.

Between January and July 2016, the country has already garnered a total of 3,539,310 international visitors, up by 13.8% over the same period of 2015. “ We have seen a double-digit growth almost every month since January”, explains Verna Covar-Buensuceso, Director and Office-In-Charge Market Development Group, Department of Tourism.

Asia accounts roughly for 60% of all international arrivals, followed by the Americas (18%, essentially due to a comprehensive Philippines- originated Americans in the USA and Canada) and in third position, Europe with an 11% market share.

I CAN ONLY TELL YOU THAT WE WILL SURPRISE THE INDUSTRY WITH OUR NEW SLOGAN. WE WORK VERY HARD ON THE NEW CAMPAIGN

Korea remains the biggest visitor- generating market with arrivals topping 828,911, a market share of 23.42% of the total. The USA is steady at the second spot with 529,069 visitor arrivals (14.95%) while China is consolidating its rank as the third largest source market for the Philippines with 422,801 arrivals, a share of 11.95%. Europe also enjoys high growth rates with most incoming markets growing double-digit. France is performing best among Europe’s top markets. From January to July, French travellers numbers jumped by 21.9% to reach already 35,500. “We received last year some 45,000 travellers from France and it is very likely that France will pass the 50,000 mark. We see more French tour operators including the Philippines in their Asian circuits. French are particularly interest in the Philippines with the northern part of Luzon Island -particularly Banaue, the home of Ifugao ethnics; Palawan and the Visayas”, adds Ms Covar- Buensuceso.

Ms Covar-Buensuceso explains that while they are no direct flights from Paris to Manila, the tourism authority is working in close cooperation with Gulf carriers as well as Turkish Airlines to propose attractive fares. “We are waiting also for Philippines Airlines to receive its recently ordered Airbus A350. I believe that they are already talking about new routes to Paris, Frankfurt and Rome. But this will not come before 2018.”

FRANCE – AN IMPORTANT SOURCE MARKET
France is the Philippines third source of travellers from Europe. The UK remains number 1 with 104,000 travellers from January to July, up by 13.8% followed by Germany with 52,000 tourists during the same period (up by 19.5%). Following France, the Netherlands generated slightly over 19,000 arrivals from January to July.

“The interest of the Philippines is growing as the country can be considered a bit like ‘a last frontier’ in Asia. Not so many European travellers have been to our country and they are starting to realise how attractive it is, particularly for its nature, its seaside and its rich culture”, underlines Covar- Buensuceso.

Changes are however in the air for a new marketing campaign. The arrival of Wanda Corazon Teo, owner of a large tour operating company in the Philippines, as Tourism State Secretary is accompanied by a new thinking about tourism. She already announced in a recent press conference to replace “It’s more fun in the Philippines” brand with a new one, the launch of which is already planned for 2017. “I can only tell you that we will surprise the industry with our new slogan. We work very hard on the new campaign”, says Covar-Buensuceso.

The new brand will also be accompanied by a new promotional plan. “Promotion to our regional neighbours will be one of the central points of our future strategy, especially as we want to emphasise more regional destinations such as Mindanao or Palawan”, adds the Director of Market Development