MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine and Thailand governments revived the tourism cooperation agreement during the official visit of President Rodrigo Duterte in Bangkok, Thailand.
Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon Tulfo-Teo said she and her counterpart Thai Ministry of Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul signed the Implementing Program of Tourism Cooperation at the Santi Maitri Building of the Government House of Thailand.
Duterte and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o Chan witnessed the signing.
Teo said the implementing program, effective from 2017 to 2020, is rooted in a Memorandum of Agreement on tourism cooperation signed in Manila between the Philippines and The Kingdom of Thailand on March 24, 1993.
The tourism chief specified that the implementing program was focused on doing promotional programs for both countries to increase tourist’s arrivals. She added that Filipinos and Thais had exchange on tourism development strategies promotions and standards.
More Thai tourists eyed
“We will be having promotional materials in line with Thailand. Tourism operators of Thailand and Philippines will sell both package,” Teo said at the press conference of Cabinet members on Wednesday.
“We have more Filipinos and less of Thais coming to Philippines,” she added.
Teo said that some Thai groups already expressed interest in coming to the Philippines citing that some of them are Catholics who would like to come on pilgrimage while Thai Smile Airways is set to fly to Cebu and Davao.
Asked what the Philippines have learned from Thailand’s promotion, Teo said she was able to take insights that packages in the country are more expensive so she is eyeing lowering the cost of packages, including hotel accommodations.
"There is so much we can learn from Thailand in terms of tourism development strategies, noting that it tops Southeast Asian countries in terms of visitor arrivals," Teo said in a separate released statement.
Teo said among the strategic plans the Tourism department is planning to work on are more direct flights and encouraging investment for hotel resorts.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez agreed, adding that aside from investments, improvement on infrastructure would also be helpful to encourage and double the number of tourists.
Thailand is the newest partners of the Department of Tourism along with China, Cambodia and Turkey. These countries forged a tourism cooperation agreement under Teo’s leadership.
"Philippines’ tourism program may yet gain an added boost with this concrete commitment for tourism cooperation with Thailand as a result of President Duterte’s fruitful official visit in Bangkok this week," Teo said.
In 2016, visitor arrivals from Thailand grew by 8.8 percent reaching 47, 913. Thailand also accounts for the ten percent of the total arrivals from the South East Asian Nation
Teo said the target arrivals should increased twice as its current numbers.