MONTHS after escalated tensions between North and South Korea, Philippine outbound to the South is on the mend, thanks primarily to the relentless marketing and promotional drive of its NTO in Manila.
Maria Michelle Victoria, president and general manager, Golden Eagle Travel and Tours, said Philippine outbound to South Korea is recovering from the many tour cancellations in April and May, although it has not yet reached last year’s high levels.
Likewise, Jeahan Mae Aladata, travel consultant for outbound, Jeju Air Philippines, said that the market is coming back, especially with the approach of the peak October to January season.
She said Jeju Air plans to increase flight frequency from Manila and to add more destinations in South Korea. The airline currently runs daily flights to Incheon from Manila and Cebu, and offers Seoul tour packages.
Most travel consultants TTG Asia e-Daily spoke to credited Korea Tourism Organization’s (KTO) unwavering efforts for the recovery of the market. The NTO subsidises up to 70 per cent of partner agencies’ advertising.
“KTO is always supportive of the travel trade, even to the extent of giving shopping vouchers to our group tours. They’re accessible, we can talk to them anytime,” said Aladata.
Victoria added: “Their support is really there and their funding is all out. They really advertise to market the packages. Every quarter, they have updates on new destinations and places to see in (South) Korea.”
KTO has recently launched religious pilgrimages, replacing medical tourism promotions to the province of Gyeonggi-do. While medical tourism did not find a foothold in the Philippine market, travel consultants expect pilgrimage packages to become a hit in the predominantly Catholic Philippines.
“KTO Manila is very aggressive. It’s the only NTO I know that promotes continuously. One promotion follows another without a lull, unlike other NTOs where they wait for several months before launching another project,” noted Dorothy Aytona, president and general manager, Skynet Travel.
Aytona said a recent promotion for visa-free group packages to Jeju Island via Cathay Pacific’s Manila-Hong Kong-Jeju service was so popular that all seats were snapped up long before the promotion ended.