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DOT brings “listening tours” to Middle East travel and tourism partners
DOT brings “listening tours” to Middle East travel and tourism partners
Lifestyle
DOT brings “listening tours” to Middle East travel and tourism partners
by Karen Ow-Yong08 May 2024
Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco on Monday (May 6) delivered her message before the Philippine delegation during the opening of the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2024 at the Dubai World Trade Center (DWTC). Photo courtesy of DOT.

MANILA – The Department of Tourism (DOT) engaged tourism players from the Middle East through its “listening tour” with the objective of further unlocking the potentials of the Philippines as a preferred destination for the Middle East market.

On the sidelines of the opening day of the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2024 last Monday, DOT Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco met with some 90 travel and tourism stakeholders from the Middle East and thanked them for their continued support to Philippine tourism.

In a statement, Secretary Frasco drew on the many commonalities in culture, history and religion that the Philippines, particularly in Mindanao, have with the Middle East, and hopes to foster a shared appreciation for the Islamic traditions, architecture and cultural customs shared through tourism.

"Coming on the heels of the very successful recently held Mindanao Expo, a flagship program of the Marcos administration that recognizes the potential of Muslim and halal tourism in Mindanao, we find ourselves here in the Middle East where we certainly share many commonalities in our culture, history,” Frasco said.

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“Needless to say, the Philippines and Middle Eastern countries share a multitude of cultural, historical, and religious commonalities that have shaped our nations. One prominent one is our rich Islamic heritage that evinces a deep influence that Islam has had, particularly in the southern regions of the country. The Islamic influence connects the Philippines to the broader Islamic world, including the Middle East, fostering a shared appreciation for Islamic traditions, architecture and cultural customs," Frasco stated.

During the event, the tourism chief gave an overview of the Philippine government’s tourism strategies and direction, particularly in reinforcing the country’s position as an emerging Muslim-friendly destination, a citation it earned during the Halal in Travel Global Summit last year.

"Since then, we have eyed this niche market by strategically developing our Halal Tourism portfolio, offering Halal-certified dining, increasing halal accreditations, and conducting Halal awareness orientations," the DOT chief shared.

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Guests and stakeholders visit the Philippine pavilion to inquire about services and other travel-related concerns during the Arabian Travel Market 2024 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo courtesy of DOT)

Meanwhile, Frasco emphasized that a strong presence in the Middle East market is also needed to enhance the country’s halal and Muslim-friendly tourism standards, through participation in key travel and trade events abroad and carrying out other strategies under the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) 2023-2028, as approved by President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.

Secretary Frasco also noted that the DOT is actively working with its private and public sector partners in addressing developmental factors to tourism development, including enhancing air connectivity into the country.

"Being an archipelagic nation that can only be reached via air connectivity unless you take a cruise, we have worked hard with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) as well as our partners in the private sector to really increase connectivity into the country," the DOT chief said, noting that there are already over one million seats from the region coming into the Philippines in 2023.

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All these efforts, Frasco explains, will prepare the country for the Muslim travel market, which is poised to significantly contribute to the growth of the global tourism industry, with arrivals expected to reach 140 million by the end of 2023 and an estimated expenditure of USD 225 billion by 2028.

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