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Philippine tour group planning familiarisation trip to Kingdom

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Cambodia welcomed just 1,462 visitors from the Philippines last year, down 98.6 per cent from 105,000 in 2019. AFP

Philippine tour group planning familiarisation trip to Kingdom

A Philppine Tourism Association has announced plans for a familiarisation trip to Cambodia in August to visit the Kingdom’s major tourist destinations and promote them to travel agencies and the Filipino public.

It announced the trip after Ministry of Tourism undersecretary of state Sok Sangvar formally introduced the Philippine tourism delegation to the Visit Cambodia Next campaign in Manila from May 3-7, where he pitched the Kingdom to Filipino tour operators as a warm, safe, clean and green tourism destination.

Familiarisation trips are reconnaissance missions organised by countries’ tourism boards or tour operators with the purpose of exhibiting key attractions in order for operators to effectively produce package tours or other promotional material.

Sangvar told The Post that the campaign was “warmly received” by travel agencies, with flag carrier Philippine Airlines agreeing to resume direct flights to Cambodia soon.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, two Philippine airlines operated direct flights to Cambodia: Cebu Pacific, which operated direct flights between Manila and Siem Reap five times a week, and Philippine Airlines, which operated direct flights between Manila and Phnom Penh, also five times a week.

A total of 150 tourism sector companies in the Philippines will be participating in the Visit Cambodia Next campaign.

Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Cambodia chapter chairman Thourn Sinan said that it was important for the Kingdom to promote itself in the Phillippines and recapture that tourist market as it is an ASEAN neighbour with direct flights, compared to further flung countries, from which such flights are sparse.

Owing to that, Sinan said that the ASEAN tourism market currently has the most potential to help Cambodia recover from the effects of the Covid-19 crisis.

He speculated that, though Filipino tourists do not visit Cambodia in as high numbers as that of Thailand or Vietnam, the large population of the country means Cambodia can still hope to attract such tourists in future.

State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) spokesman Sin Chansereyvutha participated in a virtual sharing of Cambodian tourist destinations to Philippine tour operators, in which he briefed them on the Kingdom’s flight connections with ASEAN countries and the country’s post-reopening passenger statistics.

“The government has eased a lot of conditions for travellers coming to Cambodia … and also promoted Cambodia as a safe tourism destination to encourage tourists from the Philippines,” he said at the session.

He added that in 2021, the Philippines was not among the top 10 source markets for tourists visiting Cambodia, but he hoped that would change.

Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA) president Chhay Sivlin said the Philippines is a big market for tourism in the ASEAN region. She said the direct flights from the Philippines, though few at the moment, was nonetheless a boon that the Kingdom should take greater advantage of.

“Currently we have direct flights with the Philippines only twice a week, not as many as during the pre-Covid-19 period, [but] the promotion of Cambodian tourism destinations in the Philippines is a good opportunity because the Philippines is also preparing to reopen itself fully,” she said.

According to a report from the tourism ministry, 105,000 visitors from the Philippines were recorded in 2019, a number which subsequently fell to 1,462 in 2021 during the height of the pandemic. Meanwhile, 59,388 Cambodian visitors to the Philippines were logged in 2019 – the latest available figures.

In 2020, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on the tourism sector, after which they conducted exchange visits and shared tourism experiences through ASEAN tourism fairs.

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