MANILA — The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Tuesday announced that one of the biggest Chinese tour operators, Hanglu Group, mulls mounting charter flights to Puerto Princesa, Palawan and Bohol by next year.
DOT Undersecretary for Tourism Development Planning Benito Bengzon Jr. said Hanglu informed the DOT about their plan during the agency’s visit to Chengdu, China to attend the recent United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) General Assembly.
“The good news is that Hanglu informed us a week and a half ago that they’re also looking at mounting charter flights to Puerto Princesa and also to Bohol,” Bengzon said in a press conference at the DOT office, Makati City.
“We are very happy with all these developments,” he added pointing out that charter flights are a strong driver of Chinese tourist traffic to the Philippines. DOT is eyeing one million Chinese tourists by yearend.
Bengzon explained that it was significant to consider that chartered flights opened up secondary destinations of the Philippines which is in line with the Duterte administration’s 10-point agenda that calls for higher level of tourism development in rural areas.
According to Bengzon, Hanglu Group has so far mounted flights from Muhan to Cebu, which resulted in additional 25,000 seats per year; Chengdu to Cebu, which resulted in 24,000 additional seats, and Chongqing to Cebu, which resulted in 40,000 additional seats.
He said the DOT will continue to provide support in terms of advertising and also in terms of a wide range of consumer activation initiatives in the different parts of China.
Aside from chartered flights, Hanglu Group is also interested in investing in hotels and resorts, particularly in Palawan.
DOT Secretary Wanda Teo, for her part, said that Hanglu has already visited Palawan to do an ocular inspection. She has also asked the group to consider mounting chartered flights to Davao and Clark.
Bengzon, meanwhile, said that the Philippines was also recognized during the UNWTO General Assembly in Chengdu for hosting the UNWTO International Conference on Tourism Statistics in Manila last June.
“The Philippines participated in a very high-profile manner at the UNWTO General Assembly…We were recognized for our hosting of UNWTO Conference on Statistics last June which also resulted in Manila Call for Action,” Bengzon said.
The Manila Call for Action, Bengzon said, is an agreement that defines the strategic directions with respect to sustainable development. (PNA)