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Indian weddings in Philippines

Manila, Sep 1 (IANS)- How about an exotic Indian wedding on the fine white sand beaches in the Philippines with the ocean waves lapping gently beside? The Philippines is planning to promote its beach resorts as a wedding destination, complete with all arrangements, including visa facilitation for guests, in order to boost tourism from India.

"We are keen to promote the Philippines as a wedding destination, especially Cebu and Boracay. We are putting together packages for Indian weddings, that would include hotels, organising the event and facilitating visas for guests," Verna Covar-Buensuceso, director market development of tourism department, told a visiting group of Indian journalists here.

In order to promote wedding tourism, the tourism department is working out packages and is in talks with interested parties, he said.

The Philippines is also keen to promote its pretty islands for Bollywood filmmakers to shoot their films in and hold its glitzy awards functions, he said.

"We want to promote the Philippines for shoots. We brought a lot of Bollywood producers here for talks. We are at present in talks with some Indian film producers to hold shootings here," said Verna.

On promoting the Southeast Asian island country located in the western Pacific Ocean as a wedding destination, the official said "we are sitting with a wedding planner for Indian weddings".

Some Indians have held weddings in Cebu, an island province in the Philippines comprising several islands. Boracay is a small island in the Philippines located approximately 315 km south of Manila.

He said they would provide visa facilitation for around 500 guests from India for a wedding. Of the 52,000 Indians who visited the Philippines in 2013, just 17,000 of them were tourists, he said.

The Philippines is deliberating on providing visa on arrival to Indians, which, if agreed to, would help to boost tourism.

One major hindrance to increasing tourism flows between the two countries is the lack of direct flights. Philippines Airlines discontinued its direct flight programme to India some years ago after the route failed to prove economically viable.
Now, the Jet Airways and the Philippines Airlines are in talks to revive direct flights between the two countries, he said.

Among the countries which send the largest number of tourists to this former Spanish colony and later American colony are the US, which sends over 700,000 tourists a year, followed by China, which sends 500,000 tourists a year. Europeans constitute 11 percent of the total tourist arrivals, comprising 400,000, he said.

Manila is busy upgrading its infrastructure in preparation for next year's Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit. With frequent traffic jams proving a constant irritant to motorists and tourists alike, the Philippine authorities are "speeding up the traffic infrastructure", said the official. This would include skyways on top of main roads and linking of highways and access roads to the airport, he added.