INDIAN tourist arrivals to the Philippines registered good growth of 12.5 per cent last year, the highest growth among all South Asian source markets despite the lack of direct flights to Manila from any Indian gateway city.
A total of 52,206 Indians visited the destination, compared with 46,395 in 2012, as per data released by Department of Tourism, Philippines (DoT).
Philippines Airlines withdrew its thrice-weekly service from New Delhi to Manila via Bangkok in 3Q2013. No announcements have been made so far of any carrier being awarded the flying rights on a route to India, although trade sources reported interest from Cebu Pacific.
Jet Airways’ request for a day-time landing slot in Manila airport was turned down last year.
DoT welcomed a total of 4.7 million international visitors in 2013, surpassing the 4.3 million recorded in 2012 with growth of 9.56 per cent.
Arjun Shroff, managing director, Manila-based Shroff International Travel Care, said: “The Indian market is now very aware of the beauty of Philippines as a leisure destination and we are bullish on the growth prospects from this market.
“We have seen steady 25 per cent growth year-on-year for the last three years. DoT is very pro-active in their promotional effort in the Indian market. The introduction of a direct flight will see exponential growth as Indian tourists are looking for new destinations in Asia beyond South-east Asia.”
Glen Augustin, DoT chief tourism operations officer for market development, said: “India our focus. The results of our effort are very evident. We expect very high growth from this market with increasing awareness about the destination.”
Ankur Khanna, managing director, New Delhi-based Tristar Travel Services, said: “Philippines is still a niche destination but is quickly moving into mainstream for Indian leisure travellers. Tourists who have already experienced Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia are now craving for Boracay, Palawan and Cebu, and of course the shopping in Manila.
“We have managed to work out economical flight itineraries with minimal transit time with AirAsia, Malaysia Airlines, Thai Airways and Cathay Pacific. Philippines will be a very popular, long-stay destination shortly.”