THE Department of Tourism (DOT) is confident that the launch of direct, non-stop flights between Istanbul and Manila will double the number of tourists from Turkey coming to the Philippines in the next two years or so.
“Last year, we had close to 5,000 tourists from Turkey. With the service that has just been introduced, we are confident that with the support of our partners, we can double this number in a couple of years,” DOT Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. told reporters during the launch by Turkish Airlines of its direct flights to Manila on Monday, March 30.
“Finally the long wait is over. Today is a milestone for Philippine aviation and Philippine tourism. Today we offer far more opportunities to Filipinos wanting to go to Turkey and beyond and, of course, we offer more opportunities for tourists from Turkey and other points of Europe to come to the Philippines,” Bengzon said.
Turkish Airlines will mount direct, thrice-weekly flights between Manila and Istanbul pursuant to the air pact, which grants Turkish carriers three frequencies per week to Manila and Clark.
Scheduled on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, the flights are seen to serve growing two-way tourist arrivals between the two countries.
Turkey and the Philippines signed an expanded air services agreement in November 2014.
According to the DOT, a total of 3,731 tourists from Turkey visited the Philippines in 2013, a 19 percent increase from 2012, while the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism recorded 3,581 tourists from the Philippines in 2014.
Citing the country’s impressive economic growth, Turkish Airlines chief executive officer Temel Kotil said they expect to leverage on renewed global interest in the Philippines.
“We are very excited to bring our renowned in-flight services to Filipinos, and we hope that our new flights to Manila will boost trade between our two countries,” Kotil said.
Turkey, strategically located in the crossroads of Asia, Europe and Africa, is only three hours away by plane from more than 60 different countries.
Turkish Airlines general manager for the Philippines Erhan Balaban said: “Many are eager to discover the Philippines’ world-famous beaches, while there are historic sites in Turkey and Europe that Filipinos would love to see.”
With over 260 destinations in 108 countries, Turkish Airlines operates the world’s fourth-largest flight network. The airline flew more than 54 million passengers in 2014.
Bengzon added: “On the part of the DOT, we work very closely with the airlines in promoting the country to our source markets. We hope to work with you in organizing more familiarization trips, more sales missions, more road shows in positioning the Philippines as a very competitive, attractive, and of course fun destination.”