THE Philippines strengthened its tourism partnership with France through the signing of the summary record of discussion during the 1st Philippines-France Joint Working Group Meeting last week.
Department of Tourism (DOT) Undersecretary for Tourism Development Benito Bengzon Jr. signed on behalf of the country while the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, Head of Tourism Promotion Department Clément Laloux represented the French delegation.
Our meeting aims to discuss the plans and developments of the agreement to recommend programs, projects, and activities for the development of tourism cooperation between our two countries As we are gathered here, may we continue to help each other to build and promote our respective countries, Undersecretary Bengzon said.
The inaugural joint working group meeting between the two nations commenced following the signing of the agreement on tourism cooperation in Manila last February 2015.
We are very happy to be here for this first joint committee on tourism. I think we both worked very actively to increase the number of tourists coming to the Philippines and coming to France. Im sure that the French expertise of the French companies that are part of the delegation will take part in this development, Laloux said.
Leading the Embassy of France in Manila delegation are His Excellency Nicolas Galey, French Ambassador to the Philippines and Micronesia, Deputy Head of Mission Christine Carole, Political Counsellor Quentin Biehler, Economic Counsellor Laurent Estrade, and Counsellor Camille Chabe.
Representing other French government organizations include Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs International Development Officer Maud Hainry and Atout Franc Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Director Morad Tayebi.
The French private sector was well represented by Aéroport de Paris Ingénierie Aviation Marketing Director Guillaume Arrigoni, Pomo Asia Sales Manager Benjamin Fauchier Delavigne, Club Med Regional Development Manager East and South Asia and Pacific Sébastian Favre, PayinTech Country Manager Philippines Brian Tessier, and Paris-Manila Technology Corp. President and CEO and member of the Tourism Congress of the Philippines Hubort dAboville.
France is well aware of the huge potential of the Philippines tourism sector Your beautiful and welcoming country can certainly attract many more tourists beyond the well-known destinations in Southeast Asia. As your slogan says, its always more fun in the Philippines, Ambassador Galey shared.
Among the agenda of the meeting covered were the destination promotion efforts and best practices, investment opportunities, air route connectivity and direct flight proposal, and the two-way tourism traffic.
We have managed to attract almost 75,000 French tourists in 2018, hopefully with better coordination and closer cooperation it can finally reach 100,000, Undersecretary Bengzon added.
A total of 74,389 French tourists visited the Philippines last year with 22,219 arrivals already for the first two months of 2019. This recorded a double-digit growth of 22.25% against the same period in 2018.
Conversely, over 86,000,000 Filipinos visited France in 2017 mostly on pilgrimage tours.
France is the countrys thirteenth source market and is the top three for Europe following the United Kingdom and Germany. As of February this year, French tourists are also the ninth top spending tourist with PHP 896,158,004 expenditures or USD 17,171,049.
The DOT targets 114,264 French tourist arrivals by 2020.
In order to attract more French nationals, the DOT conducts product and market research and development with training, webinars, e-learning and incentive programs for the French market, trade development and trade support via French travel agents familiarization trip, joint promotion campaigns, business-to-business workshop with Philippine travel trade and Central Europe roadshow, conduct of French media familiarization tours, and participation at major trade and consumer fairs including dive shows with the notable endorsement of French celebrity freediver Guillaume Néry as the Freediving Ambassador of the Philippines.
The French delegation also toured Intramuros, Rizal Park, Cultural Center of the Philippines, Fort Santiago, Manila Cathedral, San Agustin Church, National Museum of Fine Arts, and the National Museum of Natural History showcasing Manilas tourism products, park management, heritage conservation, and deep religious culture of Filipinos.