Philippines Tourism E-Newsletter - March 2013

March has been a very exciting month for Philippines tourism so far with numerous positive travel news and developments for the country, participation at significant dive events and business exchanges and more international accolades for the country.

At the start of the month, the Philippines Department of Tourism (PDOT) had a highly successful participation at the Dive Travel Show in Madrid where the Philippines' presence was celebrated as the destination country.

Last 11 March, PDOT was able to meet over 20 new tour operators at the PATA exchange. All are beginning to sell the Philippines for the first time in their packages.

On 23-24 March, PDOT will once again be promoting diving to the British market at the London International Dive Show at Excel.

New landmark developments on air travel recently have been announced at last week's MICE Convention in Davao. Both common carriers tax (CCT) and gross Philippine billings (GPB) charges imposed on foreign carriers have now been removed. With this, we hope to see the return and increase of international direct routes back to Philipine gateways. (or you can use the same as before)

Earlier, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has already reported lifting the Significant Safety Concerns (SSCs) for the Philippines. This paves the way for the FAA and EU regulatory bodies to upgrade all Philippine carriers back to category 1 in the future, enabling direct flights back to Europe by our local airlines.

More positive news for Boracay, it has once again been hailed as the "Best Beach in Asia" by TripAdvisor for the 3rd consecutive year. Additionally, Ariara Island in Palawan features on MSN's Amazing Islands to rent around the world.

Meanwhile, three international cruise ships, MS Amsterdam, MS Queen Victoria and MS Europa called on the port of Manila last 09, 11 & 12 March 2013, respectively.

MS Amsterdam, carried an approximately 1,200 passengers from United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, Australia. While MS Queen Victoria, a luxury passenger vessel owned by the British-American cruise line brought 1,800 passengers. MS Europa on the other hand had around 330 passengers.

Cruise lines are now continuing to discover the attractions of the Philippines by including the country in their tour offerings. Ships are also increasing the destination ports in the Philippines. In previous years, the ports of call are limited to Manila only, but now the cruise lines have considered docking in the ports of Puerto Princesa and Cebu. All these are in line with the Department’s drive to develop new markets for tourism to the Philippines.

In this issue:

  Major Programs
  Destination of the Month
  Package of the Month
  More Fun News

Major Programs


Join the Fun at this Year's London International Dive Show

The UK dive market will once again discover why diving is more fun in the Philippines at the annual dive show in London.

As reported by top UK dive tour operators, diving in the Philippines has gone from strength-to-strength. The country is among their top two destinations worldwide. With its value-for-money, breadth of diversity and new dive sites opening up in the country, the Philippines continues to extend its lead as the top dive destination in Asia.

With a substantially new set of co-exhibitor partners joining PDOT at the Philippines booth, more products and dive holidays will be available to the dive community than in recent years. Buceo Filipinas, Gifto Travels, Thresher Shark Divers, Evolution Diving, Equator Diving, Dive Safari Asia and Ultimate Diving will all be showcasing special show offers during the event.

Vivid high-definition underwater video scenes will be displayed on the stand c/o TXL Video.

Buceo. Es Más Divertido en Filipinas!

The Philippines' position as one of the world's top diving capitals for the Spanish market has been affirmed at the Dive Travel Show in Madrid last 1-3 March.

A fantastic showcase of the Philippines' dive sites, cultural and culinary attractions were on full display during the 3-day event as the invited country at Spain's largest dive show.

The 50sqm booth of the Philippines located near the entrance of the exhibition centre was intricately designed to give visitors great views of the country's underwater attractions. Decorating the stand were large banners featuring box fish, sea turtles, pygmy seahorses and clownfish. BluRay and 3D films from TXL Video of underwater sites in the Philippines invited numerous divers to stop and watch the amazing footage.

On display, was PDOT's brand new promotional materials all translated for the Spanish market. Swanky dive brochures with striking images of the top locales in the Philippines and large A3 maps were distributed to the eager crowd. The Omnibus brochure containing fast facts, the country's map and a multitude of reasons why "It's More Fun in the Philippines" was also very popular.

Philippine partners at the booth were the Philippine Embassy in Madrid, Atlantis in Puerto Galera, Atmosphere in Dumaguete, Sampaguita in Moalboal, dive and liveaboard operators Buceo Filipinas, Discovery Fleet, Thresher Shark Divers and Qatar Airways as partner airline for the event. All co-exhibitors handed out their special show offers to the Spanish travel trade also exhibiting at the show and have established vital partnerships with them.

Numerous exciting events were lined up to further increase the Philippines' presence at the event.

On the first day, show organizer Ingrid Riera gave a presentation in Spanish on the country's top dive attractions to attending press and trade visitors at the stand. The presentation was very well attended with participants spilling out of the stand to other nearby booths. This was followed by a cocktail reception where Philippine mixes of Tanduay, Vuko (a coconut based Vodka) and Filipino fare - cassava cakes, BBQ, yema balls, spring rolls among others were well-received by the divers.

More activities continued on the second day beginning with a press conference on Philippine diving given by both PDOT and Ultima Frontera. Topping the day’s activity was the premier showing of highlights from the Seas and Oceans II documentary by Bluescreen Productions featuring dive sites in Puerto Galera and Dumaguete on Stage. The documentary will be shown later this year across Europe, Russia and China on numerous television channels.

The highlights on the last day of the show included cultural performances by Philippine dance companies based in Spain---- Sinulog Dance Troupe, BIBAAK Dancers and Sto. Niño Dancers on stage to a massive crowd. The main prize raffle for the event was a luxury liveaboard holiday to the Philippines for two worth over 7,000 USD onboard Discovery Fleet with air-tickets provided by Qatar Airways. Other co-exhibitor partners also gave out lucrative dive holidays to various parts of the Philippines.

With the established presence of the Philippines in the Spanish dive community, PDOT is working to engage other mainstream travel markets in the region. It is working closely with the Philippine Embassy to spread the FUN tourism brand across Spain.

More Tour Operators Start Selling the Philippines at PATA Exchange in London

The recently held PATA Exchange at the Central Hall Westminster last 11 March was the most promising for the Philippines so far.

The event brings together tourist boards, hotels and resorts with tour operators and agents in 15-minute timed business meetings throughout the day.

PDOT London was able to meet with over 20 tour operator companies and travel brands with most being new partners to feature the Philippines in their holiday packages. Most of the appointments were requested by companies wanting to meet with PDOT via the booking site weeks before the event. This is indicative of a heightened increase in the demand for the Philippines.

Travel companies catering to the luxury market made up most of business-to-business meetings including brands like Travel Magellan, Tailor Made Travel, Steppes Travel, Exotic Voyages, Peacock Travel and Tours, Kenwood Travel and Exsus among others. Most new operators were looking to discover new exclusive properties in the Philippines and assistance in developing their Philippines programme.

Added positive news was reported by tailor-made specialist Travel2 stating a 75% increase in Philippine bookings at the start of the year.

New markets including MICE, GAP Year and Independent Travel were also able to establish partnerships with PDOT. Crescent Associates, a MICE company was already seriously considering sending large groups to the Philippines later in the year. Flight Centre, one of UK’s largest travel brands where numerous brands fall under including GAP Year, Intrepid, Infinity Holidays and Escape is already keen to embark on joint-promotions with the Philippines being seen as a rapidly growing destination.

Destination of the Month


Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park

The Philippines’ first inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1993 was the Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park in Palawan. It is one of the most outstanding coral reefs in Southeast Asia consisting of two coral atolls covering an area of
33,200 hectares. It contains a very high density of marine species surpassing any reef of the same size anywhere in the world.

Located in the middle of the Sulu Sea, getting to Tubbataha involves a 12-hour boat ride from Puerto Princesa. The optimal season for visiting Tubbataha is from March to June in an intensive, immersive week-long live-aboard journey.

The reef offers one of the best diving in the Philippines, and the hardy traveler finds an entire range of aquatic animals, from huge pelagics down to the tiniest species. The islets also serve as an important refuge for seabirds in Southeast Asia. Tubbataha's islets are believed to be one of the last breeding grounds for
a host of endangered bird species.

Package of the Month


Philippines Big Fish Adventure

6 nights Tubbataha Reef on the Philippine Siren 30 April - 6 May 2014

The Philippines is full of great diving, but the most awe inspiring spot is Tubbataha Reef. This isolated reef, 181km off the coast of Palawan, is extremely remote and can only be accessed by liveaboard. On this special trip with Equator Diving you will experience this special dive destination from the comfort of the SY Philippine Siren. The trip promises big fish action from start to finish! As this is a relatively short trip you may also want to combine it with another Philippine dive destination or even Micronesia - talk to us about the options!

Cost and arrangements
The cost of the trip is 1,695GBP (2,695USD) per person, including 6 nights on the Philippine Siren, 19 dives (inc 3 night dives), free Nitrox, equipment rental, all meals, soft drinks, beer, tea/coffee and return transfers between Puerto Princesa airport and the vessel. There are daily flights from worldwide destinations to Manila International Airport and connecting flights with Puerto Princesa. Equator Diving will happily handle all of your flight and hotel arrangements.
For more info click here

More Fun News


Boracay Tops Best Asian Beaches List for the 3rd Consecutive Year on TripAdvisor

The beauty of the Philippines has once again received accolades from online travel guide and travel magazine Lonely Planet.

Another positive indicator that more and more satisfied travelers started proudly spreading the word about their many “fun” experiences in the country.

Boracay topped the list of TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice 2013 – Best Beaches in Asia 2013 – holding on to this crown for the third year in a row.

Read More click here

ICAO lifts Significant Safety Concerns in the PHL

The Department of Tourism (DOT) is elated over the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) report lifting the Significant Safety Concerns (SSCs) it had previously cited as requiring immediate corrective action to upgrade standards in aviation safety in the Philippines. This is one of the crucial steps that will lead to increased flights to and from the Philippines—allowing local carriers to mount flights to long-haul markets such as the US and Europe, and foreign and local tourists to travel domestically with even greater confidence. This development will certainly make the country more competitive and will contribute tremendously in achieving the tourism sector’s target of 10 million international visitors by 2016.

Now that opportunities and the global spotlight are shifting to our side of the world, we must continue to build on this momentum by implementing key reforms that would push and sustain the country’s growth. The government’s active response towards resolving the identified deficiencies is a clear commitment to ensuring that travel to and within the country becomes truly more fun.
For more info click here

Return of International Air Carriers to PH Expected

Several European and American airlines are expected to return to the Philippines after the government’s removal of “discriminatory” taxes on foreign carriers, the country’s leading tourism industry group said.

The Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) said the removal of the common carriers tax (CCT) and gross Philippine billings (GPB) imposed on foreign airlines would boost efforts to turn the country into a major aviation hub for Southeast Asia.

In Davao City, President Aquino on Thursday signed Republic Act No. 10374 exempting foreign carriers operating in the country from the payment of certain taxes.

The President signed RA 10374 at the newly opened SMX convention center in Lanang, where some 600 local and foreign delegates gathered for the Philippine MICE Conference. MICE stands for meetings, incentive travel, conventions and exhibitions/events.

With the signing of the law, the President expects the government to meet its target of 10 million foreign visitors a year by 2016, up from 4.3 million in 2012, as he sees “millions of our peoples [having] greater freedom in planning their trips.”

Officials expressed hope that the new law would usher in an era of lower fares for aircraft and transportvessels because foreign carriers would be exempt from paying the 3-percent common carriers tax imposed on passengers. Carriers would also be spared from the payment of the value-added tax for the transport of passengers.

Read More click here

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