Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon Tulfo-Teo has conducted a series of meetings with German officials and travel executives improve bilateral relations, particularly tourism cooperation initiatives.
Teo and the Department of Tourism team conducted the meetings following the conclusion last Sunday of the International Tourismus Borse (ITB), the world’s biggest tourism trade fair, in the German capital Berlin.
In a statement, Teo said she sat down with legislator Jurgen Klimke, and exchanged views on the promotion of tourism between the Philippines and Germany, including exchange programs for Filipino and German students and professionals.
Klimke is a current member of the committees on foreign affairs and of economic cooperation and development of the Bundestag, or the lower house of the German parliament. A former journalist, Klimke is a member of the ruling Christian Democratic Union party and his regional focus is on South and Southeast Asia.
The Secretary also sat down with Hamburg Hotel School administrator Robert Panz, who 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 DOT priorities was selling the Philippines as a culinary and cruising destination.
“The Philippines remains to be at the forefront of promoting its gastronomy tourism by hosting big MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) events and the single most important culinary tradition is Madrid Fusion Manila, while developing cruise as niche markets,” Teo added.
The tourism chief personally committed to arrange meetings between the DOT-partner universities and institutions, and other government officials and their German counterparts, inviting both Klimke and Panz to visit the Philippines.
The Secretary said her meeting in Germany was also part the Philippine government’s commitment to advance bilateral relations with the Central European country in all aspects, including political dialogues, economic cooperation, and people-to-people exchanges.
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”, targeting families who go on holidays.
The airline expressed its interest in launching flights from Zurich to either Manila or Cebu.
“The DOT is keen on increasing air access between European markets and the Philippines. Your initiative is very timely, considering that PHL is expanding its airport infrastructure, as well as route development to key tourist markets,” Teo said.
Teo also also met with officials of DERTouristik and FTI Touristik AG, two of the largest tour operators in Germany. She requested the operators to expand their tour packages to include other destinations such as Vigan, Siquijor and Balesin, to name a few.
The DOT chief, a former travel and tour operator herself, said she assured the operators that the safety of local and foreign visitors, especially Europeans, 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 stressed.
According to DOT undersecretary for administration and special concerns Rolando Cañizal, who accompanied Teo in Berlin, European markets posted top growth rates in tourism arrivals to the Philippines last year.
Spain topped the list, posting a 32.94 percent growth rate for 32, 097 arrivals in 2016, from the recorded 24, 144 visitors in 2015. Likewise, France saw a significant increase of 21.71 percent, chalking up 55, 384 arrivals last year, while the 86, 363 arrivals from Germany indicates a growth rate of 14.6 percent.
On the whole, there were 629, 474 European tourists who visited the Philippines in 2016 with the United Kingdom as the biggest source European market contributing 173, 299 guests. CBB