MANILA, Philippines – A global airline and tourism management company, Aviareps, on Thursday said that it is currently working with the Marianas Visitors Authority (MVA) to position the Philippines as a key partner of Marianas Islands.
Aviareps, which started its Philippine operations last year, handles over 90 airlines and more than 90 tourism clients.
The Mariana Islands, which is located 1,500 miles east of the Philippines, are divided into the islands of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands namely Saipan, Tinian, Agrihan and Rota.
Aviareps-Philippines Office Director Jean Lugan said the company will take advantage of the proximity of the Philippines and direct flights to the Mariana Islands in the region to fan tourism on both sides.
“There is a lot of potential in the fact that the Philippines is only four hours away from Saipan and that it is only Philippine Airlines that has direct flights to the Mariana Islands in the region,” Lugan said.
Lugan said the Philippines can easily surpass its target of acquiring 6.5 million tourist arrivals this year by having neighboring countries go to the Philippines first to spend a few days before going to the Mariana Islands.
Data from the Department of Tourism (DOT) showed that last year, 115 million individuals from the ASEAN region traveled abroad with Singapore and Malaysia being the top markets for the country with close to a total of 300,000 visitors.
The MVA brought travel agencies and tour operators from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam to Saipan with a stopover in the Philippines to capitalize on this trend.
In the Philippines, MVA has established a consortium of 16 travel agencies that are promoting two-way tourism between the Philippines and Mariana Islands.
“If everything works out, we will see a big increase this year in tourist arrivals both in the Philippines and in the Mariana Islands. MVA will be building the same type of consortium in other ASEAN countries,” Lugan said.
She added that another built in advantage is that the Philippines and the Mariana Islands share the same top markets in Korea, China, and Japan.
Currently, flag-carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) flies Wednesdays and Sundays to Saipan from Manila and Mondays and Thursdays from Saipan. However, it does not have direct flights to the Mariana Islands from any other ASEAN countries. Azer Parrocha/PNA-northboundasia.com