Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Jaime Bautista assured senators on Tuesday that he will work with the Department of Tourism in creating available direct flights from tourist destinations in Thailand to the Philippines and vice versa.
During the budget deliberation of the DOTr and its attached agencies, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri shared the idea he got from his recent meeting with Thai Ambassador to the Philippines Tull Traisorat.
“For example, kung may pupunta ng (for those who travel to) Thailand and they want to go to the Philippines or they want to go to the Philippines and can go to Thailand. Ang tawag dito ay ‘Paradise Island’ destination kasi may mga taga-Europe, America (They call it ‘Paradise Island’ destination because there are Europeans, Americans, they want to go to the Southeast Asia. They want to travel as much as they can, hindi lang isang bansa (not only one country),” Zubiri told the panel chaired by Sen. Grace Poe.
“He was suggesting that it would be fantastic if there can be a Boracay to Phuket direct flight or Ko Samui to Cebu direct flight. In that way, that would be wonderful because the tourists don’t have to go to Manila and then they have to take another flight,” he added.
Bautista said the idea is doable especially if flights can be booked outside Metro Manila and assured as well that he will talk it out with the local airline companies.
“We can do that but we have to work with the airlines. It’s really the airlines who will operate. They will see to it that they will be profitable, of course,” he said.
Prior to the pandemic, Zubiri said he was told by Traisorat that Thailand was recording 12 to 14 million tourist arrivals.
“Ang sabi niya (He said) if the Philippines works this out, you can even get 10 to 20 percent of that because if they go to Thailand, they might want also to visit the islands of the Philippines. Imagine 20 percent of 14 million. That’s a lot of additional tourists from those who come to the Philippines,” Zubiri said.
“Let’s probably work that out. Maybe we can come up with a program. I can mention that to the President tonight. As we you know, we will all be on his birthday tonight,” he added.
Zubiri on Monday received Traisorat and planned about possible cultural activities to commemorate the 75th anniversary of bilateral relations of the Philippines and Thailand in 2024.
They also discussed plans to strengthen cooperation, especially in agriculture, tourism and inter-parliamentary ties through the newly-established Philippine-Thailand Parliamentary Friendship Association in the Philippine Senate.
Zubiri also extended a cordial invitation for Thailand to participate in the 31st Annual Meeting of the Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum scheduled in November where Traisorat gave his assurances that a high-level Thai delegation would be attending. (PNA)