Tourism helps Philippines peso grow stronger

May. 29, 2007

DAVAO CITY — The rise in international visitor arrivals has been supporting the peso appreciation this year, which is expected to continue given the growing interest in Philippine destinations.

Jose Clemente III, president of the Philippine Travel Agencies Association, said economists had overlooked that international tourism revenues helped the peso gain value against the US dollar.

He said about 3.5 million foreign tourists would visit the Philippines this year, up from 2.8 million in 2006, which was already a record high.

The Department of Tourism estimated that a foreign tourist in the Philippines spent an average of $1,200, higher than the countrys average per capita gross domestic product of about $1,100.

Clemente, however, said that travel agencies had complained about the strong peso, because their rates are in US dollar, which when converted into peso, has less value this year.

Local airlines, on the other hand, claimed that the strong peso had been helping their business, mainly because it brought down the cost of aviation fuel and imported planes and spare parts.

It is very, very good, said Cebu Pacific president Lance Gokongwei, who disclosed an ambitious plan to buy 20 Airbus planes and 14 turboprop aircraft at a total cost of $1.25 billion over the next six years.

The increasing volume of air transport passengers, brought about by the booming tourism industry, has in fact forced the Ninoy Aquino International Airport to extend by two more hours the period of operation of its international runway 06-24 to serve more flights of airlines such as Cathay Pacific, Cebu Pacific, Kuwait Airlines, Emirates Airline, Korean Airlines, Asiana Airline and Qatar Airways.

Arrivals from Korea have been singled out as the biggest contributor to the tourist growth in the Philippines.

The tourism department said it would prepare a strategic and tactical marketing offensive in Seoul to further increase its fast-growing captive market.

Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano said the department would launch the marketing blitz during the Korea World Travel Fair 2007 on June 7 to 10 at the Convention and Exhibition Center in Seoul.

Maricon Basco Ebron, who heads the departments office in Korea, expects some 650,000 Korean tourists to visit the Philippines in 2007, up from 572,133 Koreans who came here last year.

To be launched at the travel fair is a five-minute video of our new Beyond the Usual campaign highlighting the uniqueness of Philippine destinations, festivals and parties, shopping and bargains, lifestyle and honeymoons, health and wellness, history and traditions, and nature, culture and adventure, and many other activities that set our country apart from the rest of Asia, Durano said. (PIA Dispatch)

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