SINGAPORE continues to be the top source of tourists for the Philippines in the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), encouraging the Department of Tourism (DOT) to continue its strong marketing push in the city-state.
In 2013 there were 175,304 visitors from Singapore, up 18.09 percent from the arrivals in 2012. For the first month of 2014, the Singaporean market contributed 13,399 visitors to the Philippines, an increase of 10.46 percent from the January 2013 level.
There is optimism at the DOT that those numbers for Singapore would rise significantly over the next few months, with increased flights between the city-state and the Philippines, and a more strategic marketing initiative by government tourism bodies.
In an interview, Tourism Spokesman and Assistant Secretary for Market Development Benito Bengzon Jr. said one of the aims of the recently concluded air talks between the Philippines and Singapore was to grant additional traffic rights to the designated carriers of both countries. “The increase in frequencies and the opening of new routes would provide more opportunities to increase two-way traffic between the Philippines and Singapore,” Bengzon told the BusinessMirror.
He added that the agreement “also paves the way for promoting both countries, particularly to long-haul markets.” The designated Philippine carriers that would benefit from the new air pact are Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Tiger Airways Philippines.
The Philippines and Singapore finalized a new air-service agreement in February, increasing the number of seats from Manila to Singapore to 17,600 per week, from 13,800 for each country.
Also, the new memorandum of understanding between both countries expands their fifth-freedom traffic rights, allowing Singapore carriers to pick up passengers from the Philippines, and bring them directly to China, on top of Osaka and Seoul. Philippine carriers, on the other hand, are now allowed to pick up passengers from Singapore to India, on top of Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok.
As such, the DOT will now “step up our market-development efforts in Singapore, targeting young couples, divers and expats,” Bengzon said.
For his part, Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) Chief Operating Officer Domingo Ramon Enerio III said: “Singaporeans look for eco adventure and nature tour options because they’re surrounded by urban infrastructure with limited opportunities for outdoor activities. They look for the relaxing space to escape from their fast-paced work style.” The Philippines, he pointed out, offers Singaporeans that kind of escape from their urban jungle.
He added that “they’re our No. 1 market from Asean and have potential to grow even more.” TPB is an attached agency of the DOT tasked with marketing the Philippines to local and foreign tourists.
Meanwhile, in the first month of 2014, total visitors to the Philippines rose 5.8 percent to 461,383.
South Korea again emerged as the top market for the Philippines, with 118,308 visitors, accounting for 25.64 percent of the total. However, South Korean visitors dropped by 12.36 percent from 134,994 in January 2013.
In the second spot was the United States at 71,042, which accounted for 15.4 percent of market share; followed by China at 49,538 (10.74-percent market share); Japan at 35,160 (7.62 percent); Australia at 20,747 (4.5 percent); Canada at 16,413 (3.56 percent); Singapore at 13,399 (2.9 percent); Taiwan at 12,448 (2.7 percent); Hong Kong at 11,587 (2.51 percent); the United Kingdom at 11,098 (2.41 percent); Malaysia at 8,697 (1.88 percent); and Germany at 7,616 (1.65 percent).
Diplomatic issues aside, the mainland China market grew substantially by 98.53 percent from the January 2013 level of 24,952, as well as the Hong Kong market, which rose by 39.43 percent from 8,310. The Taiwanese market, however, slipped by 23.02 percent from 16,170 in January 2013.
(This piece was published in the BusinessMirror on March 27, 2014.)