Niche markets focus of tourism campaign

Manila, Philippines — New geographic and demographic markets have been identified as well as a new route development team has been set up by the Department of Tourism (DoT) to get more flights to the Philippines, that would boost the tourism arrival target of 10 million by 2016.

Assistant Secretary for International Tourism Promotions Benito Bengzon Jr. said that what is left of the “market” functions of DoT is market development, or a function that focuses on attracting new tourism markets to the Philippines.

“Since the start of 2013, DoT has been all hands on deck to look for relatively new geographic and niche markets that we can focus on to attract bigger influx to the country,” Bengzon stressed.

Bengzon listed Russia, India, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand as new geographic markets or tourism markets that are not necessarily among the Philippines top source markets but have consistently shown high double-digit growth rates.

From January to May 2013, Russia had a 33 percent growth year-on-year, India had 21.60 percent; Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 37 percent; United Arab Emirates, 16.47 percent; Vietnam, 24 percent, Indonesia, 24 percent and Thailand, 18 percent.

“These geographic markets are our fallback whenever the sector gets into minor pitfalls like the decrease in tourists from Taiwan and the back-to-back travel advisory from Australia and Canada,” Bengzon said.

To further cultivate the identified geographic markets, DoT conducts regular trade shows and sales missions to the aforecited countries to further boost the market.

“A few years back, Malaysia was among these ‘new potential markets’ now it is our ninth biggest market overall. That is what we hope to do with the geographic markets. When the markets mature, we then look for new ones,” Bengzon said.

Meanwhile, another component of market development that DoT is working on is the demographic market or “niche” market, a specific product feature aimed to satisfy a specific market need. For the niche markets, Bengzon enumerated diving, medical tourism, education tourism (particularly English) and cruising.

In its effort to bring in more flights to the country, DoT recently set up a route development team to encourage and promote more international flights to the country.

“The new chartered flights from China, the first-ever scheduled direct flights from Singapore to Boracay by Tiger Airways, that is all part of route development. We are talking to a few other airlines. Some we cannot say for now because they are yet to be finalized. But in the next two to three months, expect more airlines flying direct to our destinations,” Bengzon said.