Teo: Russia eyeing more flights to PH, free visas to boost tourism
Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo said on Thursday Russia was considering more flights to the Philippines, and even free visa applications for Filipinos, in a bid to increase tourist arrivals between the two countries.
In an interview with Pinky Webb in the CNN Philippines’ program “The Source,” Teo said she had talked to her counterpart in Russia for a bid to increase flights between the two countries.
This developed after President Rodrigo Duterte started strengthening ties with the Kremlin by visiting Russia to meet his idol Russian President Vladimir Putin.
READ: Duterte heads to Russia in blow to US
Teo, who was with the President during the Russia visit, said had signed an agreement with her counterpart for a joint promotion of trainings in the Russian language for tour guides.
Asked if there would be more flights between Russia and Manila, Teo said: “They’re working on it.”
She said few Filipino tourists visit Russia mainly because of the stringent and expensive visa requirements.
Recalling her conversation with her counterpart in Russia, Teo said: “Based on our report, the arrivals of Filipinos to Russia is 3,000, while ours is 9,000. There’s a big difference why, because the visa going to your country is expensive. Second, it takes three weeks for us to get a visa, and there are so many requirements.”
Teo earlier said Russia was listed among the “high growth markets,” with 9,152 arrivals during the period January-February period this year, a 29.24-percent increase from the same period last year.
She said her counterpart in Russia was “considering” giving free visas to Filipinos.
She added that Russia had also committed to conduct trainings on the Russian language for the Filipino tour guides this October, especially because the Philippines only has two Russian tour guides.
“We went to Russia with the President, and we were able to sign an agreement with my Russian counterpart, joint promotion of the trainings they would be doing,” Teo said.
She and officials of the Federal Agency for Tourism of Russia signed the Joint Action Program of Tourism Cooperation (JAPTC), one of nine bilateral agreements sealed by the two countries during Duterte’s visit in Russia.
Earlier, Teo said the Russian government would organize a Russian language training program for the Filipino tourism industry workers.
Under the JAPTC, the two countries agree to assist each other in establishing contacts between the Philippine and Russian national tourism organizations, in a bid to improve the tourist arrivals between the two countries.
READ: The Russians are coming, says tourism chief
Despite the small number of Russian tourist arrivals to the Philippines, Russia had started considering the Philippines as a new tourist destination, Teo said.
She recalled her conversation with a tourist operator in Russia who committed to her to send more Russians to the Philippines, especially during winter, when the Russians would want to escape the cold weather for the Philippines’ tropical climate.
Teo said she was asked to bring Russian tour operators to the Philippines so they would know how to sell the Philippines in Russia.
Recalling her conversation with the tour operator, Teo said: “They know the Philippines is a nice place. They asked me if we could bring tour operators to the Philippines every month starting October till February. So they would know how to sell your country.” /atm
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