MANILA, Philippines – The lack of direct flights from Austria to the country is keeping Austrian tourists from the Philippines, said Dr. Walter Hoefle, Austrian economic counselor to the Philippines.
In an interview, Hoefle, a scuba diver, said that while the Philippines might have better beaches and diving spots than its Southeast Asian neighbors, it could not compete with them because tourists would prefer not to be inconvenienced by flight transfers.
“They come to the Philippines because this is one of best diving spots in the world…[But] you cannot compete with Thailand when you just have beach…They say why should they go to the Philippines, I’ll go to Thailand because they have direct flights,” he said.
Hoefle said Austrians who wanted to go to Thailand have direct flights from Vienna to Bangkok; those who wanted to go to the Philippines have to go to Italy then Bangkok then Manila.
Nevertheless, Hoefle said, more and more Austrians were discovering the Philippines which they generally like for the warm weather and specifically for the diving.
Hoefle, a diving enthusiast, said he has tried diving in Palawan, Cebu, Bohol, Negros, and Dumaguete.
Asked how the Philippine-Austria trade relationship was affected by the economic slowdown in the United States, he said his country has not engaged with the US much and thus was not much affected by it.
“No, it is not affecting us at all because the business we are doing here is independent of the situation in the US. Austria is not affected by the US slowdown because our economy has specialized on the neighbors in Eastern Europe. We simply joined the EU and there’s much activity going on there and this was not affected by the US. Relatively, small part of our trade is done with the United States,” he said.
Hoefle recommended that the Philippines should engage in more trade with the European Union to overcome the crisis. “You have to do more exchange with the European Union,” he said.