THE Philippines will ease its visa rules for group travel from India, part of the country's proactive approach towards poaching India's MICE.
Acknowledging that obtaining visas is one of the main hurdles in attracting Indian tourists, Glen Agustin, team India head, market development group, Department of Tourism, said the Department of Foreign Affairs would soon come up with a new policy that would grant group visas to incentive, conference and family groups.
Currently, Indian nationals can only secure individual visas after fulfilling all requirements, including show money. The country last year began allowing Indian nationals who have visa-free entry to AJACS SUK countries (Australia, Japan, Canada, Singapore, the US and UK) to enter the Philippines without a visa for 14 days, extendable to 21 days.
Agustin explained that the Philippines was employing a two-prong strategy for wooing Indian inbound, by first targeting market segments earmarked as having the best potential, of which MICE tops the list, and then taking a geographical approach by gunning for areas in India with the biggest outbound potential.
The country was focusing on MICE, especially incentives, because of the huge returns to be yielded, and is thus positioning itself as a fun, mid-market destination for corporate travel.
The Philippines will conduct its second-ever roadshow in India, adding Hyderabad and Ahmedabad to this year’s circuit. The high levels of industrialisation and wealthy populations in the two cities made them ripe for the picking, said Agustin.
Last year’s roadshow facilitated business meetings between the Philippine travel trade and their Indian counterparts, and visited Kolkata, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru. The Philippines also continues to attend India’s largest outbound travel fair, Outbound Travel Mart.