WITH the strong performance of its economy this year and in the last couple of years, the Philippines has not only become a tourism destination but also a lucrative tourism market for other countries as well.
A development, which also puts Cebu in the middle of it all.
The French and tourism officials started the ball rolling as they made their pitch on Monday to Cebuano tourists to visit France, who has a niche market — religious tourism — for Filipinos.
A few hours later, it was the turn of representatives from an international hotel chain brand operating in one of the top tourist destinations in Asia to explore the Philippine market, especially the Cebuano market, for their hotel in Hong Kong, Kowloon Shangri-la.
Hong Kong general manager Ulf Bremer, in an interview on Monday, said the Philippines is now the top emerging market for Hong Kong followed by Indonesia and Thailand.
He cited the double-digit growth last year of the number of Filipinos travelling to Hong Kong.
“Last year, we only visited Manila. Now, we decided to also visit Cebu, which we have come to learn, has become the center for the country’s regional growth. We are here to look at markets and opportunities to get more Filipinos to stay in our property while they visit Hong Kong,” he said.
The Philippines’ rapid economic growth in over a year has caught their interest.
“And we expect to see more of this growth here. The economy has expanded. Filipinos are travelling more in families and the MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions, expositions) market is also a growth sector especially the incentives market from the Philippines,” said Bremer.
Based on data from Hong Kong’s Tourism Commission website, the Philippines is among the country’s top ten visitors which registered growth from between two to 10.9 percent in 2015.
“In 2015, Mainland China continued to be our largest visitor source market with 45.8 million arrivals (-3.0 percent in 2014), accounting for 77 percent of our total arrivals. Amongst all Mainland arrivals, 27.8 million (61 percent) were same-day visitors, while 18.0 million (39 percent) were overnight visitors,” the website wrote.
As for non-Mainland markets, the number of visitors from short-haul markets, which includes the Philippines, in 2015 was 8.9 million, while those from long-haul markets was 4.6 million.
Among Hong Kong’s top 10 visitor source markets, the number of visitors from the United States, Macao and the Philippines increased by 2 percent to 10.9 percent, while those for Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Australia and Malaysia fell by 0.6 percent to 8.5 percent.
Bremer said that they are seeing more of the Filipino families and the incentive travelers going to Hong Kong.
“The companies here, both international and local, are now starting to give rewards to their employees in the form of travels. This is an indication that the economy is doing well and is projected to continue to do well,” he said.
Bremer said that the Cebu market is also becoming an important focus market for their chain as Cebu has positioned itself as the regional gateway in the country due to the growing direct flights.
“Connectivity is key and Cebu has grown its access by the new flights it add,” he said.
Bremer said that they have recently connected with tour operators in Cebu to also introduce their brand and the packages they offer.
Aside from the Philippines, Bremer said that their hotel is also looking to tap the Middle East market which he said has also added accessibility through direct flights.
“Hong Kong is a destination and an easy gateway to other destination. Language is easy, connectivity has always been there and we want more Filipinos to discover what Hong Kong has to offer,” he said.