The arrival of tourists from India is expected to double from roughly 46,000 last year to 100,000 in 2014, the Indian tourism operators group stated.
According to the Outbound Tour Operators Association of India, they are determined to keep alive the travel pace to the Philippines despite the recent calamities that have affected the country.
“We must support the Philippines and keep the momentum going on,” OTOAI president Guldeep Singh Sanhi said.
Sanhi said that India chose the Philippines as one of its leading partners because of products and culture “very close to the Indian traveler.”
“The cultures and family values are quite similar,” he said. “It is also an English-speaking (country) so it will be simpler for a tourist (to visit).”
He also mentioned the country’s “wonderful hotels, pristine beaches, falls, volcanoes” which are good for either family, honeymooners among other tourist segments.
Food is not a problem, he said, noting that there were many Philippine hotels and restaurants offering Indian food for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.
“We want to be in the top 10 countries in the Philippines,” Sanhi stressed, as he spoke well of the Filipinos’ hospitality to all their tourists.
The OTOAI launched its first convention in the Philippines from December 1-4 with 280 delegates from the Philippine Tourism Operators Association and their invited target market, the middle-class citizens from India.
OTOAI has already promoted the leading tourism destinations in the country such as Metro Manila, Boracay, Cebu and Palawan through familiarization trips.
Sanhi said more Indians would visit the country if there are more direct flights and easier visa facilitation as Indians would always prefer to visit a country that does not require one like Thailand and Hong Kong.
Flag carrier Philippine Airlines halted its flights to and from New Delhi, India’s capital, last June 15 because of low demand.
Sanhi, however, assured that OTOAI will continue to promote to Indian customers the many things the Philippines has to offer.
Meanwhile, Department of Tourism Team India head, Raymund Glen Agustin, said that, so far, there is no alternate course for an Indian traveler to the Philippines than to get a visa.
However, he said anyone with a valid visa to the USA, UK, Japan, Australia, Canada, Schengen, and Singapore can come to the Philippines “visa-free” for 14 days, which is double the number of days usually given to Indian travelers, he said.
He added the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Philippine Embassy in New Delhi are currently working on developing group visas.
“There are things that complicate visa matters but there’s also that move in 2015 to have a common visa for ASEAN -- we’ll look into that,” Agustin said.
“It may benefit us, we have to try to see what the agreements would be among the ASEAN. But we’re looking at that with a positive sense. With a common visa for ASEAN, Indian travelers would see a more open or liberal way when it comes to entry requirements,” he added.*PNA