By Roy Mabasa
The influx of Indian tourists visiting the Philippines is expected to further increase following the anticipated opening of direct flights between Manila and New Delhi before the end of this year.
Indian Ambassador to the Philippines Jaideep Mazumdar said it could be “sky is the limit” for Indian tourist arrivals should the plans of both Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific to have direct flights between the two capitals push through.
Mazumdar noted that last year, India became one of the fastest growing sectors in tourism arrivals to the Philippines as it grew by 18-19 percent compared to the previous years.
“Still not very large, about 120,000 Indians went to the Philippines but it is growing very rapidly. Indians are looking at the Philippines as a new destination that they have not yet explored,” the Indian envoy told reporters last week.
Mazumdar cited beautiful beaches, the service industry and the hospitable people as the Philippines’ biggest selling points to inbound tourists.
“Indian tourists say that whenever they come here they feel so welcome and at home. Language is also an asset because we both speak English. it’s a win-win situation for both countries,” he said.
With the recent developments in Boracay, the Indian diplomat emphasized the importance of concentrating on infrastructure and to make it sustainable as a tourism destination.
“To make Boracay again what it used to be some years ago, I think that’s a good objective,” he said.
The envoy had similar observations when he visited Palawan and other tourist destinations in the Philippines recently.
“I can see that if you don’t maintain those places in the pristine beauty that they are now in the long run tourism will suffer,” Mazumdar noted.
On the other hand, he encourages Filipinos to visit India and explore its exotic places like the palaces, ports, mountains, desert and also experience India’s fast-growing wellness tourism.
Last year, more than 36,000 Filipino tourists visited India.