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Tourism data paint a bright picture for Asia-Pacific tourism

MANILA -- The country's tourism line that “It's more fun in the Philippines” is boosted by new data from the World Tourism Organization.

The data show international tourist arrivals worldwide grew by 5 percent or 467 million tourists this year with the Asia-Pacific region posting the strongest gains.

The gains are affirmed by a study conducted by global travel market research company PhoCusWright which states that Apac is set to gain US$357 billion in travel and tourism in 2013.

The optimism in the Asian travel and tourism industry was shared by industry leaders and movers during the annual TravelRave 2012 held in Singapore recently.

Neeta Lachmandas, Singapore Tourism Board's assistant chief executive officer, sees that by the year 2020, the global spend on tourism whether inbound or outbound will grow by 40 percent.

“It is important for us to create a platform for travel industry leaders and players and harness the goodness in Asia,” she says during the first-day press conference. “It is equally important to embrace the challenges and because Asian tourists are different in their own ways, we have to start strategizing and collaborating.”

Growth in SEA

Southeast Asia reported a strong start this year with a growth of 9 percent and an increase of 3.1 million additional international visitors. Most of these visitors come from the Americas, Europe and Asia, which account for 90 percent of international arrivals.

TravelRave 2012 was also the venue for the annual ITB Asia's Trade Show for Asian Travel Market running on its fifth year. The dynamic travel market is evident with a significant increase of 15 percent from last year among participants from 72 countries.

“We saw a double-digit growth in all segments of the show,” says Martin Buck, vice president, Messe Berlin Singapore (MSB), organizer of ITB Asia.

The Philippines' Department Tourism (DOT), together with a couple of travel agencies participated in the travel expo held at The Sands Expo and Exhibition center, Marina Bay Sands. The agencies, Ang's Travel and Tours, Pan Pacific Travel Corp., and Shroff International Travel Care Inc., hoped to attract the wholesale and retail market.

However, if the Philippines wants the share of the pie of Asian tourism's multibillion dollar earnings, the government needs to work on having direct flights to prime tourist destinations. Majority of the foreigners randomly asked by SundayBiz the reason why they don't visit the Philippines replied, “You don't have direct flights to Cebu, or Palawan, or Boracay. It's a bit of a hassle to go to Manila then change planes.”

ITB Asia posted 865 exhibiting companies that needed an increase of 13 percent in gross floor space and a 17-percent increase in net floor space compared to last year which was held in Suntec, Singapore.

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This photo taken on Feb. 18, 2011 shows tourists going out of the Puerto Princesa Subterrarean River National Park located in Puerto Princesa on the western Philippine island of Palawan. Southeast Asia reported a strong start in international tourist arrivals this year with a growth of 9 percent and an increase of 3.1 million additional international visitors. (AFP)

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