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The Philippines boosts tourism relationships with Austria.

The Philippines boosts tourism relationships with Austria.

The Philippines is working hard to improve its tourism relationship with Austria to bring in more visitors from Europe. Recently, on March 7, 2024, Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco talked with Susanne Kraus-Winkler, the Austrian State Secretary for Tourism, during their meeting in Vienna. During the talk, Frasco expressed the Philippines' desire to pursue a tourism cooperation agreement with Austria to stimulate tourism growth in both countries.

Tourism Cooperation Agreement

The Philippines is advocating for a formal agreement on tourism cooperation with Austria. This agreement aims to adopt thebest tourism practices, promote cultural exchanges, and establish frameworks for improving skills in the tourism industry. Secretary Frasco said,“Following our discussions in Manila during your visit last year, we wish to reiterate the interest of the Philippines to sign a Memorandum of Tourism Cooperation to formalise our efforts to benchmark best tourism practices on sustainable tourism, enhance our people-to-people exchanges, and further enhance our frameworks on human capital development, among others."She noted the chance to enhance the market and emphasised the importance of informing Austrians about the appealing tourism offerings in the Philippines. These include beaches, dive sites, adventure opportunities, and experiential travel experiences across the islands and diverse communities. Secretary Frasco also highlighted the remarkable 89 per cent recovery rate of Austrian visitors to the Philippines in 2023, with 13,180 arrivals compared to the 14,840 recorded in 2019 before the pandemic lockdowns. The Filipino community represents the largest Asian community in Austria, comprising approximately 30,000 Filipinos and as many as 60,000 Filipino-Austrian nationals.

Working holiday program

The Austrian representative also explored the concept of a "working holiday program" (also referred to as "workstation"). This initiative, outlined in a memorandum of understanding between the Austrian and Philippines in October 2023, integrates leisure with practical work opportunities abroad. It enables individuals aged 18 to 30 to support a portion of their overseas stay while acquiring valuable skills and experience.Kraus-Winkler expressed the desire to enhance the existing cooperation between Austria and the Philippines in tourism and facilitate the mobility of young individuals. During her meeting with Frasco, she eagerly anticipated discussions regarding the prompt implementation of a working holiday program, akin to the recent agreement reached with the USA.

Frasco highlighted the Philippine government's efforts in training tourism workers through the Filipino Brand of Service Excellence program, with over 126,000 individuals trained in 2023 alone. She also mentioned the country's English as a Second Language (ESL) Program, where the Philippines ranks among the top 5 providers globally. Frasco conveyed gratitude for the warm reception of the Philippine delegation. Aligned with President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.'s vision for a sustainable, inclusive, and resilient tourism industry, they aimed to learn from Austria's extensive experience in implementing sustainability practices. Additionally, they sought insights into Austria's government support mechanisms for sustainable tourism infrastructure, acknowledging their expertise and experiences in this field.

Promoting Philippine Tourism Products

The collaboration aims to educate and inform Austrians about the Philippines’ tourism offerings, including beaches, dive sites, adventure activities, and experiential travel across the islands and diverse communities. In addition to commencing another agreement, Frasco and Kraus-Winkler also talked about sustainability and the crucial impact of digitising tourism on the economies of the Philippines and Austria.

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