MANILA–The Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT) on Monday said is eyeing an exchange program on hotel management with Germany and the mounting of more flights to and from Switzerland.
This after Philippine Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo conducted a series of meetings with European officials and travel executives, including German Parliament member Jurge Klimke, in Berlin to improve bilateral relations, particularly tourism cooperation initiatives.
Teo and Limke discussed the promotion of tourism between the Philippines and Germany, including exchange programs for Filipino and German students and professionals.
Hamburg Hotel School administrator Robert Panz expressed interest for possible joint exchange programs with Philippine educational institutions. The Hamburg Hotel School specializes in cruise, events and catering, gastronomy and international hotel management.
Teo told Panz that among the priorities of the DOT is selling the Philippines as a culinary, cruising and meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) destination.
“The Philippines remains to be at the forefront of promoting its gastronomy tourism by hosting big MICE events and the single most important culinary tradition is Madrid Fusion Manila, while developing cruise as niche markets,” she added.
She invited both Klimke and Panz to visit the Philippines and committed to arrange meetings between the DOT-partner universities and institutions, and other government officials and their German counterparts.
DOT is targeting over 6.5 million people directly employed to tourism-related jobs by end of the term of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte in 2022.
Teo also met with Air Chief Commercial officer Alain Chisari of Edelweiss, a leisure airline wholly-owned by Swiss Air and branded as “Holiday Airline” who expressed its interest in launching flights from Zurich to either Manila or Cebu.
She said that the DOT is keen on increasing air access between European markets and the Philippines and welcomed Chisari’s initiative as “timely” as the Philippines continues to expand its airport infrastructure and route development to key tourist markets.
The Tourism chief also met with officials of two of the largest tour operators in Germany namely DERTouristik and FTI Touristik AG.
She requested the operators to expand their tour packages to include other destinations such as Vigan, Siquijor and Balesin aside from the usual destinations.
Operators were meanwhile assured that the safety of local and foreign visitors is a primordial concern of the Philippine government.
“The Duterte administration has aggressively undertaken various steps to ensure the safety of tourists visiting the Philippines. Together, military and police personnel have stepped up security and safe movement of local and foreign tourists throughout the country,” Teo said.
European market growth
European markets posted top growth rates in tourism arrivals to the Philippines in 2016, according to Tourism Undersecretary Rolando Cañizal, who accompanied Teo in Berlin.
Among the European countries, Spain had the highest growth rate at 32.94 percent for 32,097 visitors in 2016, from the recorded 24,144 visitors in 2015.
Second was France with a growth rate of 21.71 percent for 55,384 visitors in 2016 while Germany came third with a growth rate of 14.6 percent for 86, 363 visitors.
There were a total of 629,474 European arrivals who visited the Philippines in 2016 with the United Kingdom as the biggest source contributing 173,299 visitors.
Teo and other officials were in Berlin from March 8 to 12 to lead the largest Philippine delegation ever to the world’s biggest tourism trade fair, the Internationale Tourismus Borse (ITB Berlin) in Germany.
The ITB Berlin is attended by the world’s leading travel trade companies and organizations’ top decision makers, experts, buyers and young professionals to network, negotiate and do business.