FIVE-STAR resort Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa is eyeing to grow the number of its guests from the Middle East, Australia and Europe with improved air connectivity to these countries.
Albert La Fuente, the resort’s director of sales and marketing, said these three countries only account for a small share of the resort’s total number of guests, which has been dominated by Koreans, Japanese and locals.
The Middle East market accounts for less than two percent of the resort’s guests while Australia and Europe (Germany and United Kingdom) account for five percent and eight percent, respectively.
“These are the new markets we are currently eyeing on given the fact that our access to these markets are improving with airline companies mounting direct flights with Hong Kong, Singapore and Manila as hubs,” said La Fuente.
He said they are working closely with the airlines to bring in media for a familiarization tour in their resort. They are also collaborating with the Department of Tourism (DOT) in its travel fairs abroad.
The Middle East, according to Lafuente, is a new opportunity market for Cebu because it is a high-spending market that is attracted to both leisure and eco-tourism activities, which Cebu is popularly known for.
The DOT said rich Arab tourists are eyeing alternative destinations in Asia and the Philippines is on their radar.
“The Philippines is a gold mine with many beautiful attractions, rich cultural heritage sites and diverse culture. But what makes the Philippine experience complete is its soft element—the Filipino people,” said DOT marketing representative to the Middle East Ibrahim Masri.
He said that it helps that there are Filipinos in the Middle East as this make Arabs more aware of the Philippines and what it can offer. Most Middle East tourists stay from six days to two weeks.
The 2012 statistics from the World Travel and Tourism Council showed that Muslim tourists spend about US$137 billion on travel, about 12.5 percent of the global tourism spending, and the growth potential is seen solid on the back of growing affluence of a Muslim middle class.
Shangri-La Mactan will also beef up its marketing efforts in luring more Australians and Europeans to come to Cebu. Like the Middle East, these two markets are also high-spenders into adventure and eco-tourism related activities.