South Korean photographer Sang-kyu Gil has visited the Philippines round 10 occasions.
Drawn by the gorgeous surroundings and inexpensive costs, the 42-year-old often spends seven to 10 days within the nation. That prices him round $400 — lower than half the quantity he expects to spend on an analogous journey inside his dwelling nation.
His final go to was in 2019, earlier than the Covid pandemic hit, however that journey is unlikely to be his final.
“After all, I’ve plans to go to the Philippines once more,” he instructed CNBC Journey in Korean.
If previous tendencies are any indicator, the Philippines is more likely to obtain many guests from South Korea when the pandemic ends.
Residents from South Korea topped the listing of customer arrivals to the Philippines yearly from 2010 to 2020, in response to information from the Philippines‘ Division of Tourism.
China, the US and Japan rounded out the highest 4 over the identical time interval, although every has a lot bigger populations than South Korea’s 51 million residents.
The Philippines is not the highest vacation spot for South Koreans, though it’s within the high 10, in response to a Philippines tourism official. In absolute numbers, way more South Koreans go to international locations akin to Japan and Vietnam.
Nonetheless, South Korean vacationers go to the Philippines greater than another vacationers — a scenario which didn’t occur accidentally.
Maria Corazon Jorda Apo, Philippine tourism director for South Korea, instructed CNBC that the Philippines focused South Korea vacationers when the nation lifted its restrictions on abroad journey in 1989.
Earlier than that, solely South Koreans over 40 years outdated might go abroad for tourism, and there have been circumstances hooked up, the Related Press reported. The federal government eased these measures because it pursued democratic growth and liberalization, the report mentioned.
The Philippines Division of Tourism acknowledged the chance and “established a foothold in Korea since 1989” by using Korea-based advertising representatives, Apo mentioned. The division later opened an workplace in Seoul in 2007 “to conduct intensive advertising and promotions,” she added.
These efforts paid off. Earlier than the pandemic, an estimated 1 in 5 vacationers to the Philippines was from South Korea.
Here is what brings these guests to the Philippines.
1. Proximity and comfort
The Philippines is a popular vacation spot due to the brief journey time and direct flights between the 2 international locations, Apo mentioned.
It takes round 4 hours to get from South Korea’s Incheon Airport to Manila within the Philippines.
There are additionally direct flights, beneath 5 hours, to famed seashore islands within the Philippines.
“Koreans can simply journey to the Philippines for a weekend getaway — often leaving … on a Friday evening, then coming again to Korea on early Monday morning,” Apo mentioned.
By comparability, Bangkok is a six-hour flight from Incheon Airport, and attending to seashores in Thailand or Indonesia usually requires a layover.
The beneficial solution to journey between the Philippines’ islands is by aircraft.
Bryan Cambri / Eyeem | Eyeem | Getty Photos
Easy accessibility is a “prime cause” for the Philippines’ reputation amongst South Koreans, in response to Cho Il-sang, a public relations consultant from Hana Tour, a Korean journey company.
“Amongst Southeast Asian international locations, the flight length is the shortest from South Korea,” he instructed CNBC.
College scholar Hyunchan Lee, 23, who visited Boracay in 2018, mentioned the island appeared like a straightforward vacation spot for individuals who aren’t conversant in the Philippines.
For different locations within the Philippines, there are various information books and blogs to assist the planning course of, he mentioned.
2. Stunning seashores
Philippine seashores are additionally a giant draw for guests from South Korea — with these round Cebu and Boracay being high favorites.
South Korea’s seashores simply aren’t the identical as these within the Philippines, mentioned Alex Jeong, a Korean gross sales supervisor at Philippines-based journey company Rakso Journey.
College scholar Hyunchan Lee mentioned Boracay is a “actually well-known journey spot” amongst South Koreans.
Courtesy of Hyunchan Lee
Lee mentioned the “finest reminiscence” from his journey to Boracay in 2018 was hanging out with buddies on their resort’s personal seashore.
He isn’t the one one. A 2020 customer survey discovered that Koreans love the “stunning sceneries and seashores of the Philippines,” mentioned Philippines Tourism’s Apo.
3. Low costs
Flights between the 2 international locations are comparatively low cost, and the rise of low-cost carriers have helped make the Philippines “much more common” as a vacationer vacation spot, Hana Tour’s Cho mentioned.
“Actually low cost” flight tickets had been one cause why Lee, the college scholar, selected to go to Boracay.
The meals was additionally low cost and attractive, he mentioned, including that taxis and different types of personal transport are additionally cheap — which is necessary since public transportation within the Philippines is not properly developed.
The Philippines reopened its borders to vacationers in February, however South Korean leisure vacationers are unlikely to go to for now, mentioned Rakso Journey’s Jeong.
That is as a result of most individuals who arrive in South Korea nonetheless have to serve obligatory quarantines.
Nevertheless, Apo mentioned curiosity “vastly elevated” when the Philippines introduced its borders had been reopening, though she didn’t elaborate on whether or not bookings have been made.
“We count on the tourism demand to the Philippines to recuperate quick as soon as journey restrictions are lifted in each international locations,” Cho of Hana Tour mentioned.
— CNBC’s Chelsea Ong and Chery Kang contributed to this report.