TO entice more Indian tourists to visit the Philippines, the Department of Tourism (DOT) recently held promotional roadshows in four Indian cities.

The agency said it expects to welcome 100,000 Indian nationals after its roadshow in Kolkata, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Chennai.

“The four Indian cities we targeted are important feeder markets, hence we are working on strengthening our relations with their local travel partners to assure sustainable growth,” DOT Secretary Wanta Teo said in a statement.

The DOT brought along representatives of hotels, resorts, spas, tourist attractions and tour operators from the Philippines to interact with over 400 Indian trade partners.

“The market has high potential for luxury and honeymooners. Quality of agents here are good and they are gaining more knowledge about the Philippines,” said Francesca Alberto, vice-president for domestic sales and marketing of Ark Travel Express in a statement.

During her recent visit to Cebu, Teo identified India as one of top new markets that the agency will tap during her stint, alongside other potential markets like Saudi Arabia, Middle East and Thailand.

Cebu is a favored destination for Indian weddings because of its beaches.

Destination weddings

In past interviews, ShangriLa’s Mactan Resort and Spa director of sales and marketing Albert Lafuente said Indian couples consider Cebu as a good destination to hold beach and garden weddings, including honeymoon packages.

Wedding ceremonies of Indian couples are celebrated for an average of two weeks.

“Cebu is ready for more Indian tourists. We have quite a number of Indian restaurants here and our cuisine is in a way similar to theirs except that they are more into spices. In terms of recreation, I guess we all have it here as well, including shopping,” said Edilberto Mendoza Jr., president of Cebu Association of Tour Operators Inc.

Growing market

The DOT chief also noted that increased Indian visitor arrivals are facilitated by the free-entry privilege extended to Indian nationals bearing visas from the United States, Japan, Australia, Canada, Schengen, Singapore and United Kingdom.

India has been one of the major source markets accounting for nearly 75,000 visitors last year, posting 22.36 percent year-on-year growth.

From January to June this year, the DOT recorded 44,294 arrivals from India, of which 5,901 were recorded in Central Visayas.