PH strengthens tourism ties with Austria

PH strengthens tourism ties with Austria
Photo from DOT

THE Department of Tourism (DOT) is pushing for a Memorandum of Tourism Cooperation with Austria in a bid to mutually grow the tourism numbers of the two countries.

On the invitation of the Austrian State Secretary for Tourism Susanne Kraus-Winkler, DOT Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco went to Vienna, Austria to explore ways to further strengthen the relations between the two nations, particularly on tourism.

The two tourism officials met on March 7.

They also discussed the best practices in the culture of the two countries, heritage, and retirement tourism, strengthen sustainable tourism frameworks and upskilling programs in hospitality and facilitate enhanced connectivity.

“Following our discussions in Manila during your visit last year, we wish to reiterate the interest of the Philippines to sign a Memorandum of Tourism Cooperation to formalize our efforts to benchmark best tourism practices on sustainable tourism, enhance our people-to-people exchanges, and further enhance our frameworks on human capital development, among others,” said Frasco.

“We acknowledge the opportunity to strengthen the market; we also wish to maximize the opportunity to educate and inform Austrians about our tourism products in the Philippines which are of great interest to Europeans including our beaches, dive sites, adventure offerings, and experiential travel across our islands and among our diverse communities,” she added.

Frasco noted the impressive 89 percent recovery rate of visitor arrivals from Austria to the Philippines in 2023 at 13,180 as compared to the 14,840 arrivals recorded in 2019 before the lockdowns brought about by Covid-19 pandemic.

She said the Filipino community makes up the largest Asian community in Austria, with approximately 30,000 Filipinos, and as many as 60,000 Filipino-Austrian nationals.

Winkler said the majority of the Filipinos in Austria work in the tourism and care sector.

The Austrian official likewise broached the conclusion of a “working holiday program” also known as “workation” provided for in the memorandum of understanding that was signed in Manila between the Austrian and Philippine Governments in October 2023.

"Tourism generally benefits from working holiday programs, as young people want to gain experience in tourism worldwide. Experience has shown that young people often also want to explore the country where they are working and go on vacation during their stay of up to one year. We want to further expand the good cooperation between Austria and the Philippines in the field of tourism and promote the mobility of young people. We are looking forward to the talks on the rapid implementation of a working holiday program, as we were recently able to conclude with the USA," she said.

Working holiday programs combine vacations with practical work experience abroad to enable young people, mostly aged 18 to 30, to finance part of their stay abroad. Through this program, they can enter into temporary employment arrangements in the destination country and also make use of educational institutions.

The program is also aimed to broaden the employees' understanding of other countries and cultures.

Frasco also noted the Philippine government’s nationwide program to train Filipino tourism workers in the Filipino Brand of Service Excellence with over 126,000 trained in 2023 alone, as well as the country’s English as a Second Language (ESL) Program with the Philippines ranking among the top 5 providers of this tourism product worldwide.

“We express our profound gratitude for your graciousness in receiving the Philippine delegation. In line with the vision of our President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. to promote a tourism industry that is sustainable, inclusive, and resilient, we are here to learn from your vast experience in the implementation of sustainability practices; likewise, we wish to know more about your government’s mechanisms for supporting sustainable tourism infrastructure, noting your government’s experiences and expertise on the said matter,” said Frasco. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)


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