EXPLORING THAI-PH COOPERATION
Central Visayas welcomed 3,377 tourists from Thailand in January to April this year, up by nearly 29 percent from arrivals in the same months last year. The revival of a cooperation agreement to promote Thai and Philippine destinations in one tour package bodes well for those numbers.
Amid some obvious similarities in tourism, there is one product that the Thais would surely enjoy while on vacation in Cebu: adventure tourism.
Cebu Association of Tour Specialists (Catos) President Alice Queblatin believes selling Cebu’s adventure tourism would allow Thai and Vietnamese travelers to experience a different side of Cebu.
She said this package would allow these guests to not only enjoy the scenic views of nature in the countryside and learn from the locals’ way of life but this would surely give them the opportunity to bond or interact with nature.
“The adventure part of Cebu is something that we could offer to these markets,” said Queblatin at the sidelines of Thailand’s B2B matching and networking activity yesterday hosted by the Philippine Airlines (PAL) in Marco Polo Plaza Cebu.
“Experiencing the falls, scuba diving, camping and other adventure activities are not easy to do in Thailand. So we are preparing packages like these,” said Queblatin.
PAL announced last month that it is opening a thrice-weekly Cebu-Bangkok-Cebu service starting on Dec. 2, 2017. The new direct flight to Cebu will use PAL’s 199-seater Airbus A321.
PR578 (CEB-BKK) will depart from Mactan, Cebu at 9:25 p.m. every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and arrive in Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport at 12:10 a.m. local time. The return flight PR579 (BKK-CEB) will leave Bangkok at 1:30 a.m. local time every Wednesday, Friday, Sunday and touch down in Mactan at 6:15 a.m.
CEB-BKK is PAL’s eighth international flight from Cebu.
Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 Director Joshur Judd Llanete II described PAL’s new direct connection to Bangkok as an “early Christmas gift” to Cebuanos. He expects this new development to also open opportunities in tourism for neighboring islands in the region like Negros, Bohol and Siquijor.
“Cebu is not greater nor lesser than Thailand. We are different,” said Llanete.
Aside from offering adventure tourism, food and heritage products could also entice the Thais and Vietnamese. However, these should be presented in an interactive way, said Queblatin.
The Cato official noted that the blossoming travel and tourism market has compelled them to offer new products to the foreign market, especially with the growing numbers of millennial travelers demanding more fun and action-packed tourism activities.
“We are now going beyond the sight-seeing activity and we are now offering experiential tourism in all of our tourism products,” she said.
Central Visayas welcomed 3,377 tourists from Thailand in January to April this year, up by 28.65 percent from 2,625 arrivals in the same period last year.
Cebu alone recorded 2,813 tourists from Thailand.
Rachakorn Saksri, director of Thai Trade Center, during her visit to Cebu last year said that although Thailand and the Philippines have similar tourism products, one differentiating factor for Philippine tourism is its people.
“Thai tourists come to the Philippines because of its people. You are friendly,” she said.
The Philippines, she noted, is also popular among Thais because of its scuba diving activities.
Early this year, Thailand and the Philippines have also agreed to revive a 23-year-old tourism cooperation agreement. The agreement states, among others, that the two countries shall encourage their travel agents to develop a joint program that would market both the Philippines and Thailand destinations in one tour package.
TAKE THAT LEAP. Adventure tourism activities, like canyoneering in southern Cebu, are likely to enthrall travelers from Thailand and Vietnam, a stakeholder said.