TRAFFIC from the Middle East is set to soar with direct flights to the Philippines commencing end-2012 and early 2013, as well as increased trade cooperation in the wake of the first-ever Philippine-Middle East Travel Exchange.
New aviation deals were sealed at the 18th World Routes Development Forum in Abu Dhabi, where the Philippines was a participant. Emirates and Etihad Airways will begin daily direct flights from Dubai to Manila in December 2012 and January 2013 respectively. Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines are also likely to start similar services.
On Tuesday, nine travel players from Saudi Arabia, seven from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and 60 Philippine travel operators met in the Philippines for an inaugural exchange, giving the local travel trade an opportunity to explore opportunities with their counterparts from the Middle East.
In addition, the Department of Tourism (DoT) is also organising an upcoming fam trip. The Middle East Broadcasting Company, along with Emirates’ and Etihad Airways’ in-flight magazines, will be participating.
DOT undersecretary Maria Victoria Jasmin said her department had specifically identified Saudi Arabia and the UAE as opportunity markets. “Halal food is generally available in five-star hotels, and the DOT is undertaking a programme that will make certified halal food easily available outside Manila.
“We are also expanding air connectivity between the region and the Philippines, as well as air connectivity into various destinations in the country.”