He then congratulated Secretary Jimenez for having a very aggressive team headed by the tireless Maricon Ebron who never fails to win awards at tourism fairs that they participate in Korea.
“Among the top five sources of tourists for the Philippines, Korea has remained on top for the last six years, despite the fact that Korea has the smallest population among the five. While the fun experience in the Philippines may be common among the five, there are factors that set Korea apart,” Amb.Cruz said.
Citing a survey conducted seven years ago by Gallup Company in which respondents cited the English education, Amb. Cruz said that the affordable cost of living, proximity to South Korea, climate, food and the friendliness of Filipinos as the reasons for visiting the Philippines, among others.
For honeymooners, golfers, businessmen, ajummas and other Korean tourists, the Philippines abound with bountiful attractions in their natural habitat, he added.
Perhaps, what really sets apart the Koreans from other nationalities is that they share a historical bond with the Filipinos, a bond that was forged in blood. From 1950-1955, a total of 7,420 Filipino soldiers staked their lives to help restore peace and freedom in the Korean Peninsula. For some 122 soldiers, it proved to be their last stand.
In grateful remembrance, Korea is now providing scholarships to progenies of these soldiers, and is extending medical help to the surviving veterans. Korea’s official development assistance is also visible in infrastructure projects and training of government officials. Not to be left behind, Korean NGOs are sending volunteers to far-flung areas in the Philippines for community development, he said, it is apparent, therefore, that what makes the Philippines attractive to Koreans are the common values that they share with the Filipinos, from the democratic way of life to caring for the environment. This is a testament to what Secretary Jimenez has said before, and I quote: “adherence to Filipino values is one of the top qualities of the Philippines that make it a worthy tourist destination”. Truly, it is the people themselves who make traveling more fun in the Philippines, Amb.Cruz concluded.
One thing that any customers can enjoy at the Philippine tourism showroom is that they can always come to staff on duty to have one stop service ranging from selection of destinations in the archipelago and tour operators to reservation of airlines, hotels and restaurants.
To this end, the showroom will provides one of the best Internet environments, with a very user friendly interface to help visiting guests with such services on real time basis, Ms. Ebron said.
At present, the Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific Airlines and Zest Air are sponsoring such a convenient service at the showroom.
"With its strategic location, I am confident that the PHL tourism showroom would play as another big platform to showcase its national campaign, It's more fun in the Philippines," said Ms Maricon Basco-Ebron, tourism director and attache at the Embassy of the Philippines in Seoul.
Philippine Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. flew into Seoul on July 20 to join the ribbon cutting ceremony to open the showroom on June 21.
The Seoul plaza, which is only few steps away from the PHL showroom, is a popular site for citizen gatherings such as cheering ground for the Korean team at FIFA World Cup or Summer Olympic. During winter season, the plaza turns into ice staking rinks, a 600 square-meter-one for children and a 1,500 square-meter-one for adults, making it hottest spot among hundreds of thousands of Seoulites.
"We want would-be travelers to the Philippines get out and about and experience the many wonderful things that the Philippines have to offer at the PHL travel center," Ms Ebron said.
DoT travel center is staffed with three experienced travel specialists who can provide visitors with all information about tourism attractions as well as guiding materials about the archipelago with total customer service satisfaction.
With ever diverse and clever displays, the newly opened Philippine tourism showroom is likely to become a destination, not just a stopping off place to pick up travel booklets about Manila, Cebu or Bora cay as well as other popular tourism spots when the Philippines is about to welcome one million plus visitors from Korea by the end of this year.
Attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the showroom, the first ever for National Tourism Organizations (NTOs) in Korea were Philippine Ambassador to Korea Luis Cruz, visiting Philppine Tourism Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez, Jr., Archibishop Osvaldo Padilla, Apostolic Nuncio of Holy See, Ms Marillou L. Fernando, committee secretary of Committee on Tourism of House of Representatives of the Philippines and Ms. Maricon Basco-Ebron, tourism director and attache at the Embassy of the Philippines. Thanking visiting Secretary Ramon Jimenez for presiding over the opening of the DOT showroom in the heart of downtown Seoul. Amb. Luis Cruz said that it is a welcome addition in the Philippine drive to promote not only its tourism but also multiculturalism and diversity of culture in South Korea.