ETW STAFF – New Delhi
The tourism board of Philippines had earlier rolled out a tourism campaign titled, ‘It’s more fun in the Philippines’ and it has high hopes that this will help in extending the destination’s reach in the Indian market. The country already logged nearly 50,000 Indian visitors in 2011 and has been witnessing a growth of 23 per cent from India. Hailing the campaign as a ‘people’s campaign’, Verna Covar-Buensuceso, director and group head for Europe, India and the Middle East, Department of Tourism said, “The Indian market is an impulsive market and for this reason we have worked with the Department of Foreign Affairs to offer visa free entry to Indian travellers.” This was announced in June this year and allows Indians with a valid visa to Australia, the UK, USA, Canada, Japan and Singapore to travel visa-free into the Philippines. Asked what was the plan beyond Delhi and Mumbai, Covar-Buensuceso said, “A big bulk of arrivals come from Delhi and the air connectivity between the two countries is also getting better. This year we will be targeting Bengaluru and Chennai.” She added that the strategy for the India market was a step-by-step approach.
Destinations being promoted include Manila as a vibrant metropolis for its shopping opportunities, Cebu for its tourist sites including Magellan’s Cross and Fort San Pedro, Bohol for its eco cultural attractions, Boracay and Palawan. Tess H Mauricio, officer-in-charge, marketing and promotions, Department of Tourism Philippines, added that the average length of stay for Indian visitors was seven days. Meanwhile Guldeep Singh Sahni, president OTOAI said, “Philippines is one destination that offers everything from nature, to sports and river cruising. Everyone will find something to do here. English is also widely spoken. Self-drives is also growing and in the Philippines the signage are all in English making it an added advantage. We should try and grow the numbers from India.”