THE PHILIPPINES signed agreements with Saudi Arabia which are expected to enhance two-way visitor traffic between the two countries, the Department of Tourism (DoT) said.
In a statement on Tuesday, the DoT said Secretary Ma. Esperanza Christina G. Frasco sealed the agreements in a meeting with the Saudi Vice Minister of Tourism, Princess Haifa Al Saud.
The two met at the recent 22nd World Travel and Tourism Council Global Summit.
According to the DoT, Saudi Arabia agreed to help establish a Philippine tour guide service with Arabic-speaking guides. It is also pursuing initiatives to expand pilgrimage tourism, increase direct flights, and compile an investor directory.
The DoT added that the Philippines will offer hospitality and human capital development to Saudi tourism frontliners.
Ms. Frasco said that Saudi Arabia was the top source of visitors from the Middle East before the pandemic, with 43,748 arrivals in 2019. Currently, visitor arrivals from Saudi Arabia number 9,424, counting from when the Philippines reopened its borders in February.
“We see great potential in ushering in more arrivals into the Philippines… At the same time, the development and relationship is mutual considering that there are over 800,000 Filipinos in Saudi Arabia,” Ms. Frasco said.
“I am very interested in furthering this relationship,” she added.
She highlighted the need for more “Philippines tourism exposure in Saudi Arabia, direct flights to other key gateways in the Philippines to and from Saudi Arabia, and the organization of familiarization trips for the tour and travel operators, among others,” the DoT said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave