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J Mercado Jr

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First Philippines-Middle East travel exchange held
« on: November 16, 2012, 12:45:59 AM »
The first travel exchange between the Philippines and the Middle East was held Wednesday at the Centennial Hall of the Manila Hotel.

Called "Philippine-Middle East Travel Exchange 2012," the activity is a follow through of the successful Philippine participation as exhibitor during the recently concluded 18th World Routes Development Forum held at the National Exhibition Center in Abu Dhabi from 29 Sept. 29 to Oct. 2, 2012, where in aviation opportunities were forged.

A total of 16 travel and tour operators, nine from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and seven from the United Arab Emirates, arrived in Manila to explore possible market opportunities with 60 local travel and tour operators, who sold different travel packages.

Department of Tourism (DOT) Undersecretary Maria Victoria Jasmin in her welcome remarks underscored the promising potential of this market.

"The Department of Tourism has identified the tourist market in the Middle East, specifically the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as opportunity markets,” Jasmin said.

“Manila can offer luxurious accommodation facilities, high-end shopping, and gaming establishments while outside the metro there are high-end resorts, exotic island getaways with white sand beaches and other facilities for the discriminating taste of the ME market,” she said.

“Halal cuisine is generally available in five-star hotels and DOT is undertaking a program that will make certified Halal food easily available outside Manila,” she added.

USEC Jasamin also said, “We are also expanding air connectivity between the region and the Philippines, as well as air connectivity into various destinations in the country.”

PHL-ME Travel Exchange 2012 comes at the most opportune time as major airlines from the Middle East such as Emirates and Etihad will commence their daily direct flights from Dubai to Manila in December 2012 and January 2013, respectively, Jasmin said.

Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines are also more likely to follow suit. These were among the many aviation opportunities forged during the 18th World Routes Development Forum held in Abu Dhabi, she added.

According to DOT Marketing Representative to the Middle East Mohamad Ibrahim Masri, the travel expo is aimed at providing the local travel trade with an opportunity to conduct tabletop discussions, interact with some of the biggest counterparts from the Middle East, conclude contracting, and provide packages to be sold in the region.

The Middle East is now looking for new and alternative destinations in Asia, and the Philippines happens to be one of its preferred locations for its many amazing destinations and great value for money. The Middle East Broadcasting Company (MBC), one of the biggest and most viewed broadcast companies in the region, along with in-flight magazines from Etihad and Emirates are coming to the country to participate in a familiarization tour organized by DOT Manila in cooperation with the DOT office in Dubai to experience and document various points of interest.

"The Philippines is a gold mine, with many beautiful attractions, rich heritage, and diverse cultures. But what makes the complete Philippine experience is its soft element--the Filipino people," Masri said. “And the Philippines is no stranger to the Middle East people, with its more than two million Overseas Filipino workers (OFW).” - PNA


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