By Azer N. Parrocha
MANILA, March 9 (PNA) — The Department of Tourism (DOT) is currently in Berlin to lead the largest Philippine delegation ever to the world’s biggest tourism trade fair, the Internationale Tourismus Borse (ITB Berlin) in Germany.
According to the DOT, this year’s edition of ITB Berlin runs from March 8 to 12, with the first three days of the fair reserved for travel and trade professionals.
The ITB Berlin is attended by the world’s leading travel trade companies and organizations’ top decision makers, experts, buyers and young professionals to network, negotiate and do business.
Currently in Berlin are Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo and other officials of the DOT, including its marketing arm, the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), who opened the 276-sq. meter booth at the colossal Messe Berlin.
Also attending the event is Camarines Sur Governor Miguel Luis Villafuerte, who personally manned the Camsur Water Sports Complex’s booth to lure ITB visitors to experience the province’s natural and man-made wonders.
At least 14 tour operators and 14 hotel and resorts from the Philippines were all busy throughout the day, from opening until closing hours, to accommodate guests from all over the world.
The DOT has been a regular participant of the ITB Berlin for three decades now.
Meanwhile, Teo said that at least five of the 28 Philippine exhibitors this year are ITB first-timers.
Teo said that the Philippine participation is another indication of the significant rise in the growth rate of European tourist arrivals to the Philippines.
She described the expo as “a must-attend business-to-business event” as it allows tourism organizations worldwide to showcase their destinations, trade products and services and packages to different markets.
The tourism chief meanwhile lauded the efforts of the private sector to take advantage of the market that accounts for 10.55 percent of the total inbound traffic in 2016.
“The private sector has become more aggressive in tapping this market, indicating that our tourism stakeholders and movers recognize the great potential of attracting the European source market,” Teo said.
Data from the DOT showed that European markets posted top growth rates in tourism arrivals to the Philippines last year.
Tourists from Spain acquired a total of 32,097 arrivals in 2016 or a 32.94 percent increase compared to the 24,144 arrivals it acquired in 2015.
On the other hand, France saw a 21.71 percent jump with 55,384 arrivals last year while Germany got a 14.62 percent hike with 86,363 arrivals.
There were 629,474 European tourists who visited the Philippines in 2016 in total. The United Kingdom remains the Philippines’ biggest source market in Europe with 173,299 guests arriving from this country.
Philippine Tourism Attaché for Central and Eastern Europe Margarita Patricia Valdes, for her part, said the Europeans are generally fascinated with the Philippines.
“The Philippines is especially attractive to the European markets because of its multi-destination, multi-product offerings that are unique from other Asian destinations, made even more fun with the warm and genuine spirit of the Filipino people,” Valdes said.