THE Philippines and Thailand have launched an “exchange tourism” agreement to encourage more Thai tourists to visit the Philippines and vice versa.
“I realized that one would find their sceneries somewhat familiar to those that we have here but what struck me is the fact that we have a lot more to offer,” Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo said.
The tourism exchange developed during Teo’s four-day visit to Bangkok recently on the invitation of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) as part of the celebration of the 84th birthday of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit.
Teo met with Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, the Thai Minister of Tourism and Sports, who offered that the two countries collaborate on farm tourism, youth development, and women and indigenous community projects.
During the working visit to “The Land of Smiles,” the DOT chief also met with the Thai Travel Agents Association (TTAA) at Tawana Ramada Hotel.
As a result, TTAA president Suparerk Soorangura announced his group will come to the Philippines in September for the Philippine Travel Exposition (Phitex) and tour the cities of Cebu, Davao and Cagayan de Oro.
Soorangura, who claims he heard about the Philippines only three years ago, said they wanted to see Mayon Volcano, go deep-diving, shopping and get a taste of authentic Filipino cuisine.
Teo, a top travel executive and tourism advocate herself before being named tourism secretary, expressed great appreciation, saying she can learn a thing or two from Thai authorities who catapulted Thailand’s tourism to the top, besting most Southeast Asian countries.
She was treated to a grand reception by the Royal Thai Navy and tours to the Royal Grand Palace, the Emerald Buddha Temple, the Queen Sirikit Textile Museum, the Bang Pa-in Summer Palace, Bang Sai Royal Folks Arts and Crafts Center and the AsiaTique River Front.
Teo said the two countries share so much in common that she felt somewhat at home during her four-day working visit to Bangkok last week.
The DOT chief was invited to promote the Philippines at the Thai International Travel Fair in February next year.