CHARTER flights linking Manila and Russian city Vladivostok every 10 days are being planned for service commencement at the end of October.
According to Valeri Ishunkin, the Philippines’ Department of Tourism (DoT) marketing representative for Russia, the new service is in the care of Russian travel company Biletur and will run until April 2014.
The company had initially mulled charters to Boracay and Cebu, but eventually decided to launch flights to Manila in cooperation with a yet-unnamed airline.
“The charters are fully paid for by Biletur, and if everything goes well, the service could grow into a regular flight,” said Ishunkin.
Badette Anatalio, manager for inbound operations at Southeast Travel Manila, which has handled land arrangements for visitors from Moscow. said: “Vladivostok (charters) will open the doors to a more mid-market segment from Russia that’s interested in beaches and wellness.”
Ine Fautstino, vice president and general manager of CCT.168 Travel & Tours Manila, added: “The Russian market is familiar with diving in continental Micronesia. They could be guided towards beach resorts and diving in Palawan, Moalboal and Malapascua.”
Vladivostok is the largest Russian city closest to Asia, noted Ishunkin, who also added that the DoT is already focusing on Moscow, St Petersburg and Khabarovsk for inbound business. She revealed that the Philippines is also soliciting new travellers from Novosibirsk, Siberia.
DoT unveiled news of the charter during a fam trip it hosted for 10 Russian tour operators from Moscow, St Petersburg, Ukraine and Vladivostok, including two representatives from Biletur.
Julia Zamolodchikova, product manager at luxury operator Eurobusinesstour Moscow, said: “The Philippines will appeal to Russians for autumn and spring (travel), and as a winter destination from September till May. Distant islands (are appealing) as a winter destination.”
She added that she would be meeting Manila hotel properties and evaluating the “sights and shopping” in the capital in the hopes of extending the Manila component of her tour programme from overnight to two or three days, before moving travellers on to Boracay and Cebu.