The Philippines came away with a milestone tourism cooperation agreement with Russia during President Rodrigo Duterte’s shortened state visit, which impressed on Moscow the Filipino leader’s firm resolve in dealing with security threats.
The Joint Action Program of Tourism Cooperation, signed by Philippine Department of Tourism (PDOT) Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo and officials of the Federal Agency of Tourism of Russia, is one of nine bilateral agreements inked by the two countries.
“The Russians are coming though they are very particular about safety and security in any prospective destination. The agreement signifies Moscow’s confidence in the Philippine government’s capability to resolve peace and order issues,” Teo stressed.
The PDOT chief noted that Russia is listed among the “high growth markets” posting 9,152 arrivals in January-February period this year, a 29.24 percent increase from last year.
Teo is part of the official entourage of Duterte, who swiftly decided to cut short his state visit due to the current situation in Northern Mindanao.
The bilateral tourism agreement states that both parties will exchange, on a regular basis, information related to ensure tourists’ safety in the territory of the country. Both countries signified to carry out continuous monitoring of any situation connected with the safety of tourists.
The Joint Action Program, a follow through of the two countries’ first agreement signed 11 years ago also in Moscow, is likewise expected to expand tourist flow between the Philippines and Russia as both parties agree to assist each other in establishing contacts between Philippine and Russian national tourism organizations (NTOs).
The proprietor of a leading Russian travel and tour agency VAND International, Svetlana Muromskaya, has visited the Philippines 11 times and noted that the country has a growing Russian clientele.
“Our clients have very good opinion of the Philippines. The people, especially, are very nice. Fifty percent of Russians who go to the Philippines become repeat clients. They come back after a year or two,” said Muromskaya during a meeting with Teo.
Once implemented, the program is expected to spur tourism exchange in education and training, as well as exchange of information and experts among tourist organizations of both countries, which Muromskaya believes is very crucial.
Teo also disclosed that the Russian government is exploring the possibilities of organizing a Russian language training program for Filipino tourism industry workers.
“We will continue to promote the Philippines as a must–see destination, and I am confident that tourist influx into the country will continue. The interest is there, as evidenced by international events being held in the Philippines, like the Iron Man and the Miss Universe pageant. Promoters are approaching us, asking the Philippines to host these prestigious events again,” Teo added.