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Monday, Apr 14, 2014

Travel

More Filipinos visiting S'pore

The Straits Times | Monday, Apr 14, 2014

A screenshot of the Singapore Tourism Board video that drew flak from netizens for its storyline, bad voice-overs and poor production values.

SINGAPORE - The promotional video may be "cringeworthy" but latest figures underline just why the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is trying to attract tourists from the Philippines.

Some 506,000 Filipinos visited the Republic in the first nine months of last year, a 4 per cent increase from the same period a year ago, the STB said.

The Philippines was also Singapore's seventh-largest market for tourists last year, and has been among the top seven for the past five years.

Meanwhile, eight travel agencies told The Straits Times that they have seen at least a 10 per cent year-on-year rise in visitors from the country.

Earlier this week, an STB video showing a couple from the Philippines visiting Singapore drew flak from netizens for its poor script and production values. It was part of a marketing campaign launched in February titled "Singapore. See where the world is heading", following similar marketing efforts in other countries like China and Australia.

However, STB said the video attracted more than 3,400 "likes" in the first week and garnered some 900 mostly positive comments when it was shared on its Facebook page for the Philippines.

Mr Kenneth Lim, STB's regional director for South-east Asia II and Oceania, said that the country is a "market with good growth potential".

"It is well-connected to Singapore by air and it is a proximity market," he said. "In our focus group studies, we've found that Filipinos have a good affinity for Singapore and they enjoy coming here."

The National Association of Travel Agents Singapore said demand for tour packages is "still strong" among Filipino tourists, especially for flight and hotel packages.

Mr Dominic Ong, managing director of Star Holiday Mart, said his company is expecting 2,500 Filipino travellers this year as the country's economy has shown strong growth over the past few years.

GTMC Travel, which brings in between 600 and 1,000 Filipinos a month, saw a 10 per cent growth from 2012 to last year.

Its business development director Audrey Tan said the travellers tend to have lower spending power and opt for basic packages that include two- or three-star hotels.

Travel agents say attractions such as Universal Studios Singapore and the integrated resorts are major draws for Filipino tourists, who also use Singapore as a base to drive to Malaysia or take cruises.

Filipino Richard Murillo has been to Singapore four times so far, his last trip being last July.

"Singapore has marketed itself really well," said the 23-year-old manager of a business process outsourcing firm. "What drew me was not a specific campaign but just word of mouth."

kcarolyn@sph.com.sg

jantai@sph.com.sg

This article was published on April 12 in The Straits Times.

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