Travel Expo to Push Hidden Gems, Emerging Destinations – Business Mirror

Travel Expo to Push Hidden Gems, Emerging Destinations – Business Mirror

Date: April 5, 2024

EMERGING destinations in Mindanao, Eastern Visayas, and Northern Luzon will be among those promoted by the Philippine Tour Operators Association (Philtoa) at its travel expo this September.

In a recent news conference, Philtoa president Fe Abling-Yu said, apart from continuing to promote less-known destinations in Mindanao, the 34th Philippine Travel Mart is “going to promote Borongan, Samar…as Philippine Airlines will now be flying there via Cebu. So we can sell Borongan and we can sell also the outlying destinations in Cebu, not necessarily Cebu City, as well as other parts of Samar.”

While there are no available flights there yet, Marinduque is also on Philtoa’s list of emerging destinations, she said, as well as Romblon, Quirino province, Isabela in Basilan province, Masbate, and Samal Island in Davao.

“The highlight really of the Philippine Travel Mart is [not just] to enhance the existing destinations, but to help the emerging destinations to be developed. Philtoa will always be there to support the local governments in any of their [tourism promotion] projects,” she added.

Sales last year

In the group’s visits around the country, Abling-Yu said they noticed the change in perspective of many local politicians and government officials—“from the congressman to the governor to the provincial tourism officer to the mayors—become more cooperative because they’ve seen the importance of tourism to their destination.”

Meanwhile, in her keynote speech, Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) Chief Operating Officer Margarita Nograles said noted the Philtoa’s role in boosting tourism traffic in the country. “Last year’s Philippine Travel Mart presented up to 50 percent discounts on airfare, accommodations, and local and international travel packages. With approximately 53,000 foot traffic and total sales of P60 million, this event played a vital role in economic growth, helping our tourism sectors bounce back stronger in the new normal. PTM has unlocked the potential of our globally acclaimed and emerging destinations, providing greater investment and business opportunities for our tourism stakeholders.”

Strong domestic tourism

TPB is the marketing arm of the Department of Tourism (DOT), which is targeting to reach 4.8 million international travelers this year. As of July 26, there were 3.1 million inbound travelers, almost 65 percent of this year’s target. The DOT is pinning its hope on Chinese tourists to be able to reach its arrivals goal this year, but the Department of Foreign Affairs noted the economic slowdown in China that has resulted in most of its nationals staying home instead. (See, “DOT lauds e-visa for Chinese tourists; but will they come?” in the BusinessMirror, July 31, 2023.)

“It’s still the domestic market that is driving tourism in the country,” according to Philtoa 1st Vice President Mary Ann Ong. “We see this because of the strong demand for packaged tours in popular destinations like Baguio, Boracay, Cebu, Palawan. What Philtoa is trying to achieve through this fair is to entice Filipinos to discover the hidden gems such as the Zamboanga Peninsula, Quirino, and Soccsksargen region comprised of South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, and General Santos. These are just some of the places that are under-the-radar but deserve to be explored, appreciated, and enjoyed.”

The 34th PTM, to be held on September 1-3, 2023, at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, will feature nearly 300 exhibitors from all 17 regions of the Philippines, and bring together hotels, resorts, travel agencies, tour operators, and tourism offices under one roof.

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