MANILA — Air talks between the Philippines and South Korea in November is seen to result in a positive trend for the growth of Korean tourists to the country, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said on Monday.
DOT Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. did not give any figures on the department’s expected growth in tourism numbers but expressed optimism that these air talks will “be good for tourism.”
Bengzon, however, said that no official date in November has been set for air talks which will be held in one of the country’s prime tourist destinations: Puerto Princesa, Palawan.
“It’s hard to say. It really depends on the studies that the airlines will conduct,” Bengzon told reporters when asked how many Korean tourists are expected to visit the country if air talks eventually result in slots for local of foreign carriers to operate flights between the two countries.
“When you look at the travel patterns of Koreans, many of them enter the country through Manila but we have large numbers entering through Mactan, Cebu; charter flights into Kalibo and other secondary destinations which can be part of new charter programs,” he added.
Data from the DOT showed that as of August 2015, South Korea, which is still the top contributor of arrivals, brought in 901,749 visitors. This is a 15.04 percent increase compared to the 783,852 visitors in 2014.
It also showed that visitors from South Korea also provided the biggest contribution to visitor earnings for the country with Php 8.85 billion.
“Korea is our number one market and it’s very important for us to always look at the capacity situation. When either side feels that there is a need to increase flight frequency, the number of seats, then we go back to the negotiating table,” Bengzon said.
“We are having it in Puerto Princesa. Normally, we have air talks in capital city. The objective is to showcase the huge potential of Pureto Princesa and the surrounding areas to the Korean outbound market. We would like to have direct flight from Korean into Puerto Princesa,” he added.
The DOT official said that it was the department’s “strategy” to highlight secondary destinations to encourage the mounting of flights.
“We’re hoping that we have successful air talks and we can convince either side—Korean or Philippine carriers—to launch flights into Puerto Princesa,” Bengzon said.
Bengzon also said that to date, there are no other air talks scheduled until the end of the year.