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Philippines looking to woo more Indian travellers

By 2020, India is predicted to have 50 million outbound travels

Gulf News

Manila: The Philippines is increasingly looking at India as a huge market for travellers willing to spend their hard earned cash for holidays in the country.

Assistant Tourism Secretary Benito Bengzon said during the recent Philippine India Travel Exchange (PHILINDEX) held in Manila, that the country is turning to the South Asian country as a market for Philippine travel destinations.

“India is a vast source of potential travellers. Its newfound prosperity and growing affluence will lend its population an increased disposable income for leisure and travel-related pursuits. By 2020, India is predicted to have 50 million outbound travels. By that time, we should have already deepened our stake as a choice destination,” he said.

China used to be big market for tourists to the Philippines, but with the dragging tensions between the two Asian countries over conflicting claims on certain South China Sea territories, Manila deems it more frugal on its part to be less dependent on Chinese travellers.

Bengzon describes Indian tourists as big spenders whose average length of stay lasts more than one week. They mostly prefer destinations with good air connectivity and easy entry procedures. India is one of the fastest growing outbound travel markets in the world with 12.5 million trips made abroad in 2010.

During the PhilIndex, a total of 24 Indian tour operators, wholesalers, travel agencies, and around fifty 50 of their Filipino counterparts engaged in table top discussions on how to bolster Indian travel to the Philippines and enhance the potential of the Chennai and Bengaluru markets. “Outbound travel from the two cities make up 26% of total outbound from India,” Benzon said.

Growth engine:

The official said the country is increasingly banking on tourism as an engine for economic growth.

“We envision tourism to be a stable pillar of inclusive socio-economic growth. With a target of ten million visitors by 2016, we need to rethink our strategies and meet new standards of performance in order to grow our existing markets, as well as develop new ones.

“This travel exchange is one way of better understanding the needs of this market and its segments. While the future is in online marketing, we equally recognize the strong influence and insights of travel agents particularly for group travel and customisation,” Bengzon said.

According to him, the Indian market generated 38,108 tourists for the first ten months of 2012, posting an 8.18 per cent growth over the same period last year. Month-on-month comparison for October 2011 and 2012 reflected a double-digit growth of 42.0 per cent. This milestone may be attributed to the recent move by the Philippines to implement the 14-day visa-free entry facility for Indian tourists with existing US, Japanese, Australian, Canadian, Schengen, Singapore, or UK visas.