A travel and tour operator in Russia expressed high praise for the Philippine tourism destinations, and underscored the growing number repeat-customers among Russian tourists.
In a news statement, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said, Svetlana Muromskaya, owner of VAND International, has visited the Philippines 11 times and noted how the country has been attracting a growing number of Russian tourists.
Our clients have very good opinion of the Philippines. The people, especially, are very nice. Fifty percent of Russians who go to the Philippines become repeat clients.
They go back after a year or two,Muromskaya said during a meeting with Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon T. Teo.
Under the DOT’s National Tourism Development Plan for 2016-2022, the DOT is seeking an increase in Russian visitor arrivals from 25,000 in 2015 to 71,000 by 2022, the last year of Duterte’s term of office.
More than 28,000 Russians visited the Philippines in 2016, up 11.6 percent from 2015, despite the European Union trade sanctions that have impacted the Russian economy.
Before the ruble crashed in 2014, visitor arrivals from Russia in the Philippines were growing by 30 percent annually, which earned it a place in the DOT’s list of high-growth target markets.
From January to February 2017, visitor arrivals from Russia grew almost 30 percent to 9,152 arrivals, data from the DOT showed.
As this developed, the Philippines and Russia on Thursday signed a historic Joint Action Program of Tourism Cooperation, which was one of nine bilateral agreements inked by the two countries.
The Russians are coming, though they are very particular about safety and security in any prospective destination. The agreement signifies Moscow’s confidence in the Philippine government’s capability to resolve peace-and-order issues, Teo stressed.
The bilateral tourism agreement states that both parties will exchange, on a regular basis, information related to the safety of tourists in the country.
Both countries signified to carry out continuous monitoring of any situation connected with the safety of tourists, according to the DOT news statement.
The Joint Action Program, a follow-through of the two countries’ first agreement signed 11 years ago also in Moscow, is, likewise, expected to increase the tourist flow between them, as both parties agreed to assist each other in establishing contacts between Philippine and Russian national tourism organizations.
Once implemented, the program is expected to spur tourism exchange in education and training, as well as exchange of information and experts among tourist organizations of both countries.
Teo also disclosed that the Russian government is exploring the possibility of organizing a Russian language training program for Filipino tourism industry workers.
We will continue to promote the Philippines as a must-see destination, and I am confident that tourist influx into the country will continue, the DOT secretary said.
The interest is there, as evidenced by international events being held in the Philippines, like the Iron Man and the Miss Universe pageant. Promoters are approaching us, asking the Philippines to host these prestigious events again, she added.
DOT officials said Russians are mostly attracted to beach destinations in the Philippines, such as Boracay and Palawan, and usually stay about 10 days in each destination, especially when winter peaks in Russia.
Data from the United Nations World Tourism Organization in 2015 ranked Russia as the world’s sixth- biggest outbound market in terms of expenditure, spending $35 billion in travels abroad.
Russians spend more than others and they stay for an average of two weeks with their families in the Philippines, Teo added.
Teo is part of President Duterte’s official entourage in Russia, but the Chief Executive had to cut short his trip after clashes between the military and a local rebel group broke out in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.
Duterte responded by declaring martial law on the entire island-region of Mindanao. The DOT regional offices in Mindanao have been instructed by Teo to make sure tourists were kept out of harm’s way.