ENCOURAGED by last year's 25 per cent year-on-year growth in Indian arrivals, the Philippines is looking at increasing flight connections between the two countries and easing its visa requirements.
The destination is aiming to increase arrivals from India by an ambitious 43 per cent to a total of 66,000 visitors in 2013, up from last year’s 46,000.
Benito Bengzon, assistant secretary – international tourism promotion, Philippines Department of Tourism (DoT), noted that India was already among the country’s top 15 source markets.
Planning to target MICE groups and Indian filmmakers, the DoT is looking for airlines interested in connecting key Indian cities to Manila in the hopes of doubling the number of such flights. Currently, Philippine Airlines runs a thrice-weekly service between New Delhi and Manila via Bangkok.
Arjun Shroff, managing director, Shroff Travels Manila, said: “Indian outbound travellers are capable of flooding destinations in the Philippines with sheer numbers but we need a way to get them to our country. More flights and specific packages that are of interest to Indian tourists are required.”
Rakesh Lamba, director, Prakriti Holidays New Delhi, said: “Many of our clients have expressed interest in Cebu, Boracay and Palawan as they are extremely attractive destinations, but the lack of flight connectivity renders our itineraries undeliverable over a sustained time frame.
"During the holiday season we can quite easily build fixed departures for the Philippines but we need at least a daily flight from either New Delhi or Mumbai.”
The Philippines government is also mulling visas-on-arrival for Indians as a means of increasing footfalls.