MANILA, Philippines – Broader markets will open for the country’s tourism industry after the European Union (EU) allowed Philippine Airlines (PAL) to fly again to the group’s 28 member states.
In an ANC interview, Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Ramon Jimenez said the lifting of the ban changes the perception that flying on Philippine carriers is unsafe.
The DOT expects tourist arrivals from Europe to double to 600,000 within a year and a half from about 300,000 currently. Bulk of the arrivals would come from the United Kingdom and Germany as well as Eastern Europe, the agency said.
In the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Tourism Forum in Laos early 2013, DOT announced the following tourist arrival projections for the following European markets:
- UK – 134,959
- Germany – 78,169
- Scandinavia – 78,437
- Russia – 39,666
The EU lifted the ban on PAL, citing the Philippines’ efforts in addressing serious air safety concerns.
Other Philippine carriers are however still barred from entering European airspace.
Jimenez said the resumption of PAL flights to Europe would help bring more tourists into the country.
PAL president Ramon Ang said the legacy carrier could fly to Europe by September or October. Its routes would include Amsterdam, London, Paris and Rome.
He said the airline would mount direct flights, making it the only carrier directly linking Manila and Europe.
Travel agencies welcome lifting of ban
Travel agencies also expect to get a boost from the lifting of the EU ban.
“Our members can now aggressively offer more packages and services built around Europe. [We expect] increased frequencies of travel,” Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) President John Paul Cabalza said.
PTAA has 500 members operating simultaneously inbound and outbound travels in partnership with airlines, hotels, resorts, theme parks, insurance companies, educational institutions, and global distribution system providers.
“European tourists along those from India and China stay the longest and spend more while in the country. There is now a big area for growth with PAL flights to Europe starting again,” Cabalza said.
According to him, a typical European tourist spends $80/day and stays in the country for 8 days on average. The Philippines is the 8th cheapest Asian destination as tourists only have to shell out $18.52/day to enjoy their stay, he noted.
Aquino to balikbayans: Promote PH
On a related note, President Benigno Aquino III urged balikbayans during the 8th Ambassadors, Consuls General and Tourism Directors Tour of the Philippines in Malacañang to promote the country when they return to their bases abroad.
The President said, “do whatever part you can in building a Philippines that truly lives up to its potential—like being informal Philippine ambassadors by telling your friends back home just how fun it is here.”
He said that he was happy to hear about the EU’s partial lifting of the ban it imposed on the Philippines in 2010. – Rappler.com