Following their arrival in the country to celebrate the New Year, Russians have been seen in droves at the country’s top spa and wellness sites and dive destinations.
“Our Russian tourists have initially planned to celebrate the holidays here and escape the harsh winter in their country. But our premiere spa sites and dive destinations have persuaded them to stay much longer,” said Ace Durano, Secretary of Tourism.
Russia’s major travel stakeholders, Sputnik Travel and Magellan Tours, and local ground handler Blue Horizons Travel and Tours, brought the guests to Boracay, Cebu, Bohol and Puerto Galera.
Some of the premiere resorts in the said destinations offered the local ‘hilot’ or Filipino style of massage to the tourists.
“More than just your typical massage, our hilot is an age-old ritual that aptly captures the Filipino touch. It relaxes both mind and spirit, and the use of local herbal oils and remedy makes it truly traditional,” shared Eduardo Jarque, Jr., Undersecretary for Planning and Promotions.
The group was likewise composed of seasoned divers who explored the country’s top dive spots.
“Our guests noted the diversity of our dive spots. From the giant thresher sharks, to the macro pygmy seahorses; mile-long wide coral-reefs to century-old wrecks, we have them,” said Durano.
The temperature of the water at 25-degrees Celsius was also a come-on for the divers.
“There is so much to see down there, and our warm waters allow them to enjoy the view longer,” added Jarque.
The Russian divers were treated to Boracay’s coral paradise, Cebu’s giant whales and sharks, Bohol’s bustling marine life, and Puerto Galera’s wreck of war ships.
“We have a lot of repeat visitors from this group. And our partners from the private sector informed us that the Russian travel operators are determined to continue this program throughout the year,” said Verna Buensuceso, DOT Head of Team Europe.
More than 300 Russian tourists flew to the country late last year through specialized chartered flights. The DOT has managed to secure several tour groups in the last quarter of the year through its aggressive promotions in the Russian market. Recently, South Cross, Capital Tours and Paks, three of the concerned market’s largest travel wholesalers, were in the country to launch their Philippine tour packages and announce their bookings of several tour groups.
The department has likewise pushed for the signing of the bilateral air agreement between the two countries, prompting the amendment of the RP-Russia Air Services (ASA) to allow all Russian carriers to unlimited flight frequencies to any 3 points in the Philippines.