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The Philippines sets a milestone when it opens its doors to the world in this year’s edition of the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2016 in Dubai

The Philippines sets a milestone when it opens its doors to the world in this year’s edition of the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2016 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) from April 25 to 28, 2016, bringing its largest Philippine contingent yet to this leading travel fair in the UAE.

The Philippine Department of Tourism (PDOT) is spearheading the country’s participation in this year’s Arabian Travel Market (ATM). A total of 30 travel companies representing the Philippines’ top hotels, resorts and travel agencies will be joining the PDOT in the annual showcase of the world’s best destinations, grandest hotel and resort properties and top-notch tourist products and services.

Leading the Philippine delegation are Assistant Secretary Arturo Boncato, Jr. of the Department of Tourism’s Tourism Regulation, Coordination and Revenue Generation and Director Verna Buensuceso, Officer-In-Charge of the Department’s Market Development Group.

Assistant Secretary Arturo Boncato, Jr. announced that as a part of its program for the Middle East market, the Department of Tourism will be introducing its Halal Tourism Program, which is specifically designed to meet the food requirements of Muslim travelers to the Philippines.

“To maintain the successes we’ve achieved in this region, we see the importance and urgency of having hotels, resorts and restaurants in key destinations in the Philippines Halal-certified within a 100-day timetable.” This, he said, “is expected to lead to better dining options for our Muslim guests and an improved readiness to receive tourists from this region.”

Initially, he said, the Department has assisted 16 hotels and restaurants in the Philippines with the issuance of their Halal certifications. 34 more establishments are expected to be certified by the end of May 2016. Seeing the benefits of Halal certification, Boncato said that more tourist-related establishments have signified their interest to join the program.

To capitalize on the program’s accomplishments, the Philippines has partnered with CrescentRating, the world’s leading authority in Muslim travel, to launch a Muslim traveler’s guide during the Halal Tourism Conference 2016 to be held in Konya, Turkey on May 3 to 5, 2016, to highlight the Philippines as a Muslim-friendly destination.

According to Director Verna Buensuceso, “For the last three years, we’ve had a steady increase in private sector delegates to this fair. From 14 partners in 2014 to 24 partners in 2015, the 30 private sector partners we have this year is the biggest delegation we’ve had for ATM and stands as a true statement of the increasing interest of our private sector partners in this high-growth tourist region.”

2016 is touted as a banner year for Middle East arrivals to the Philippines. In March, Emirates Airlines increased flight frequencies to Manila and mounted new flights to Cebu and Clark, Pampanga, two destinations in the Philippines that are considered as top tourist draws for families and business people.

The Philippines has seen the consistent growth in tourist arrivals from the Middle East. In 2015, the Philippines received a total of 83,546 tourists from the region, growing by 9.69% over 2014. Tourist arrivals from Saudi Arabia and UAE, the two largest markets out of the region for the Philippines, reached 50,884 and 16,881 respectively.

With the ATM evolving as the biggest travel and tourism event in the Middle East which draws 26,000 influential visitors and facilitates an estimated USD 2.4 billion in industry deals, the Department of Tourism is keen on developing strategic partnerships with key stakeholders in the Middle East to capture a sizeable percentage of its high-yield tourist market.

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