SEOUL, South Korea— Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco announced Wednesday (May 8) that the Department of Tourism (DOT) will be pushing for groundbreaking tourism projects this year, including the construction of the country’s first Tourist First  Aid Facilities as well as the additional hyperbaric chambers for dive safety in select strategic locations.

“The safety of our tourists is our topmost priority. And therefore, we are pleased to introduce and launch the very first Philippines Tourist First Aid Facility. We aim to construct at least five of these tourist first aid facilities this year, in partnership with TIEZA (Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority) and the Department of Health. These tourist first aid facilities aim to provide emergency first aid assistance to our tourists who may come upon issues while they are in our tourist destinations,” the Secretary announced during the DOT’s briefing with South Korean media partners, and listening tour with South Korean travel and tourism stakeholders at the Lotte Hotel Seoul.

The DOT organized the back-to-back events in South Korea, recognizing the importance of the foreign market being the Philippines’ top source of international tourist arrivals pre-pandemic with a total of 1,989,322 arrivals or a 24.08 percent share in 2019.


Tourist First Aid Facilities, soon to rise in the Philippines

In keeping with its commitment to uphold tourist safety in the country’s various destinations, Secretary Frasco announced that the DOT, in partnership with the Department of Health (DOH), will soon launch an initial five Tourist First Aid Facilities across the country which seeks to provide travelers with medical attention should they encounter accidents or emergencies while they are on vacation.

“The Tourist First Aid Facility will be equipped with skilled healthcare professionals who will have access to quick response resources to be able to attend to injuries and emergencies, enhancing the safety and peace of mind of our tourists while they travel,” she added.

The new flagship project, according to the Secretary, is part of the DOT’s efforts to elevate the status of Philippine tourism to be at par with other tourism nations in the world, alongside with other initiatives that have been rolled out since last year, including the launch of the Hop-On Hop-Off Tourist Bus Tours in key cities, construction of Tourist Rest Areas, launching of Philippine Experience Program nationwide, among others.


Expanding the Philippine Dive Tourism portfolio

As the country is also beefing up its dive tourism portfolio with South Korean tourists being patrons of the tourism product, the Secretary, a certified diver herself, shared the DOT’s plans to establish additional five hyperbaric chambers across the country through its infrastructure arm, the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA).

“We believe that the safety and well-being of our diving community and our tourists is paramount that is why we are committed to ensuring that every dive is not only a journey to the spectacular marine wonders of the Philippines, but also a safe one. A part of our ongoing dedication to diver safety, we are excited to announce a significant enhancement in our dive safety medical services. This includes the construction and addition of five hyperbaric chambers in key dive destinations in the country including Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro, Boracay, Cebu, Negros Oriental, as well as Camiguin. The five hyperbaric chambers are in addition to the existing 15 that can already be availed while they’re in the country.” added the tourism chief.

The DOT, through its attached agency, the Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving (PCSSD), is actively leading the development and audit of dive sites across the country, bringing the total number of dive destinations to 120.

Frasco also noted the beefing up of Golf Tourism in the country in a bid to further entice the Korean market.


South Korea, PHL’s top market

South Koreans continue to favor the Philippines as manifested in the growing number of arrivals this year. As of May 7, 2024, the Philippines welcomed 599,200 visitors from South Korea, representing a 26.86 percent share of the total foreign visitor arrivals.

“Our bonds with [South Korea] have never been stronger, being our top source market for 2023. Last year alone, we welcomed over 1,450,000 Korean visitors who constituted over a quarter of our total international tourist arrivals,” Secretary Frasco said.

This year, the tourism chief shared, the DOT anticipates 1.8 million to 2 million visitor arrivals from the South Korean source market, as it is also moving to expand air connections with South Korea where at present, 12 airlines are serving key destinations in the Philippines, such as Bohol, Cebu, Clark, Kalibo, and Manila.

“A cornerstone of our tourism strategy is the strengthening of international relationships through effective co-marketing and joint promotional efforts. Our partnership with Korean travel and trade partners is integral to our promotional strategy, enhancing the Philippines’ visibility as a premier destination. Together with our partners, we are committed to creating memorable experiences that attract more Korean visitors each year,” concluded Frasco.

Among other tourism offerings that are being availed of this specific foreign market apart from diving, include the Philippines’ sun and beach destinations, entertainment and leisure, golf, English as a second language (ESL), wellness and medical tourism, among others.



Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco presents the latest updates on the strategies and programs of the Philippines Department of

Tourism (DOT) during the Listening Tour with South Korean travel and tourism Stakeholders held Wednesday (May 8) at the Lotte Hotel Seoul, South Korea.

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