By Betheena Unite
More French tourists are expected to visit the country after the Philippines and France forged a partnership to further strengthen their tourism cooperation.
The two nations recently signed the summary record of discussion during the 1st Philippines-France Joint Working Group Meeting, where future tourism plans and developments of both nations were discussed.
This aims to boost the Department of Tourism’s target of 114,264 French tourist arrivals in the country by 2020.
“Our meeting aims to discuss the plans and developments of the agreement to recommend programs, projects, and activities for the development of tourism cooperation between our two countries,” Undersecretary for Tourism Development Benito Bengzon Jr. said.
Among the agenda of the meeting covered were the destination promotion efforts and best practices, investment opportunities, air route connectivity and direct flight proposal, and the two-way tourism traffic.
“We have managed to attract almost 75,000 French tourists in 2018, hopefully with better coordination and closer cooperation it can finally reach 100,000,” Bengzon said.
The undersecretary furthered that a total of 74,389 French tourists visited the Philippines last year. During the first two months of 2019, there are already 22,219 arrivals from France. This recorded a double-digit growth of 22.25 percent against the same period in 2018.
On the other hand, over 86,000,000 Filipinos visited France in 2017 mostly on pilgrimage tours.
France is the country’s thirteenth source market and is the top three for Europe following the United Kingdom and Germany.
As of February this year, French tourists are also the ninth top spenders recording P896,158,004 in expenditures.
In order to do that, the tourism department is conducting product and market research and development with training, webinars, e-learning and incentive programs for the French market, trade development and trade support.
French travel agents familiarization trip, joint promotion campaigns, business-to-business workshop with Philippine travel trade and Central Europe roadshow are also being conducted.
“France is well aware of the huge potential of the Philippines’ tourism sector…Your beautiful and welcoming country can certainly attract many more tourists beyond the well-known destinations in Southeast Asia. As your slogan says, it’s always more fun in the Philippines,” French Ambassador Nicolas Galey said.
The inaugural joint working group meeting between the two nations commenced following the signing of the agreement on tourism cooperation in Manila in February 2015.