Visa to Promote Mindanao Travel in Korea, Japan

Mar. 16, 2006

By Germelina A. Lacorte

DAVAO CITY — Market leader Visa International seeks to spur consumer spending through Visa cards this year by tapping its biggest card markets, Korea and Japan, to promote travel and tourism in Mindanao, the company said Wednesday.

Improving spending in the Korean market on travel to Mindanao is good for Mindanao and good for Visa, said Visa country manager for the Philippines James Dixon said in a talk with reporters here.

In 2005 alone, spending by Visa cardholders visiting the Philippines reached 50 billion pesos (US$914.5 million), a whopping 46 per cent growth over the previous year, Dixon said.

Mindanao is important for us not only as a local market but as a tourist destination, he said. Visa International seeks to promote to Korean cardholders to come to the Philippines.

Korea is Visas biggest market in Asia Pacific, posting a volume transaction of over US$110 billion last year, roughly one third of more than US$350 billion transactions in the Asia-Pacific region, according to Dixon. Korea and Japan are the Philippiness main tourist markets. Koreans and Japanese comprise most of Davao Citys foreign tourists.

We feel that we have not been doing much in promoting travel in the Philippines. But this time, we include the Philippines among the travel destinations that we will market to cardholders, Dixon said.

About 35 percent of the total tourist spending in the Philippines are made using Visa card, he said.

Sales volume for Visa in the Philippines reached 76.5 billion pesos (US$1.4 billion) in 2005 alone, a 27.1 percent increase over the previous year. Dixon said the card company is looking at 38 percent increase in sales volume this year.

The sales volume represents the total purchase transactions made through Visa cards at merchant point-of-sale terminals and over the Internet. Although Internet transactions in the Philippines represent barely 2 to 3 percent of the total sales transactions, Dixon said he sees a tremendous potential for growth in this sector in the future.

Visa Internationals total card sales volume in the Philippines reached 183.3 billion pesos (US$3.35 billion) last year, a 48.1 percent increase from the 2004 level. The figure includes cash advances and ATM withdrawals made through the Visa debit cards. Total electronic transactions grew by 34 percent to over 70.8 million, showing an increasing trend among Filipinos in using cashless electronic payment cards.

But, Dixon said said, cash remains to be Visas greatest competitor in this country of 85 million people, where roughly 10 percent can qualify for credit cards, and 84 percent of Filipinos are still using cash for business transactions.

Based on data culled from the National Statistics Office (NSO), only five percent of the countrys population use checks for business transactions and four percent use cards. However, Dixon pointed out, the card company is confident it can reverse this trend in the future by encouraging people to use more convenient, safer electronic cards.

Aside from its more popular Visa credit cards, Visa International also offers other electronic cards like the Visa debit and Visa prepaid cards. Visa debit cards allow cardholders easy access to their savings and debit accounts anywhere in the world where Visa is accepted.

Visa International has over 1.3 billion cardholders worldwide with value transactions reaching US$3.3 trillion last year. Over 24 million merchants and 21,000 financial institutions recognize Visa card transactions worldwide. The card company corners about 60 percent of the global card market.

In the Philippines, over 69,300 merchant outlets accept Visa cards in their sales transactions while 11 big banks and a dozen others smaller banks are accredited as members. More than 50 percent of e-commerce purchases worldwide are made using Visa cards, Dixon said. (Germelina Lacorte/

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