Gov’t, travel agents push new tourism sites

By: Riza T. Olchondra, February 5th, 2013 10:57 PM

The Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) are promoting emerging tourist destinations to meet target growth rates and make income opportunities more widespread.

Some 5.5 million foreign tourists and 35 million domestic tourists are expected to travel nationwide this year. Boracay, Cebu, Bohol, Davao and Puerto Princesa are among their top picks but the DOT and the PTAA are also promoting places such as Baler and the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (Ceza), PTAA head of public relations Aileen Clemente said. Baler hosts 15 resorts while Ceza has 17 hotel-resort locators.

Promoting new destinations would ease the pressure on mainstream sites and also distribute income opportunities toward the countryside, Assistant Tourism Secretary and spokesperson Benito Bengzon Jr. said.

Part of efforts to promote new destinations is to hold events such as the upcoming 20th Travel Tour Expo 2013, which will take place from Feb. 15 to 17 at the SMX Convention Center. The event will feature tourism ambassadors (such as Hello Kitty from the Japanese embassy) as well as daily activities and raffle prizes (such as travel points from Asia Miles) to encourage more travel, said Clemente, who chairs this year’s expo.

Travel Tour Expo participants are expected to generate 20 percent more sales from the three-day event this year from the P310 million generated during the 2012 expo, Clemente said. More travel deal seekers are expected to attend the event, with 100,000 visitors expected this year from 60,000 last year.

PTAA president John Paul Cabalza said the sales growth would also come from the higher number of booths to 554 from 477 in 2012.

“The tours booked at the expo could serve as a dry run for new destinations before tour operators actively promote their sites abroad. Visitors, meanwhile, benefit from great discounts and prizes available at the expo,” Clemente said.

Foreign destinations will also be featured such as Japanese prefectures promoted in the Japan pavilion or Malaysian sites in their country pavilion. “Filipinos going abroad are also welcome because they also market the Philippines in their own way, so hopefully that would later translate to more foreigners coming here,” PTAA media committee head Marciano Ragaza said.

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