EX­PLOR­ING THAI-PH CO­OP­ER­A­TION

Sun.Star Cebu - - BUSINESS - KAT O. CACHO / Ed­i­tor @KatCa­cho

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.

SUNS­TAR FILE

TAKE THAT LEAP. Ad­ven­ture tourism ac­tiv­i­ties, like canyoneer­ing in south­ern Cebu, are likely to en­thrall trav­el­ers from Thai­land and Viet­nam, a stake­holder said.

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