BATAD, Banaue—In a quaint Ifugao village nestled in the heart of the Cordilleras, the Philippines’ largest association of tour operators made the announcement during a short press briefing held amid the breathtaking view of the world-famous Rice Terraces.
Ethnic Games is more fun in Ifugao
“Mark your calendars; the country’s grandest tour expo is set to run on August 10-12,” says Philippine Tour Operators Association (PhilTOA) president Cesar Cruz, who revealed the news to the media in attendance. Cruz is the chairman of this year’s Philippine Travel Mart (PTM), the single biggest gathering of destinations, tourism properties, and tour operators in the country.
Now on its 23rd year, the PTM is set to break last year’s record attendance and sales. Showcasing FUN tour products across the islands, the upcoming exhibition is the result of PhilTOA’s exploration and familiarization tours in the year leading up to the event.
Ifugao Kids – More Fun
According to Cruz, the previous PTM “saw over 76 thousand travelers in attendance, generating well over P32 million in tour packages sold—all in just a span of three days.” In light of the tourism boom that followed the Department of Tourism’s (DoT) launch of the country’s new tourism campaign, PhilTOA aims to hit a higher sales record, especially with the expanded lineup of tour operators and exciting travel packages this year.
Beyond sales revenue is the objective of creating a culture of travel among the domestic market, develop an appreciation of the country’s priceless treasures, and contribute to the country’s economic growth.
In light of the upcoming Philippine Travel Mart, PhilTOA has recently been intensifying its campaign for the conservation of heritage sites in the country. “Our UNESCO World Heritage Sites are some of the most frequented tourist spots in the country, and they must be kept in top shape if we still want to have them around in the future,” says Cruz, referring to these world-renowned marvels.
Scooters are more fun in Banaue
Aside from restoration work, the Weekend Warrior Heritage Caravan also included cultural immersion activities, which include tours of native Ifugao villages (Hungduan, Mayaoyao, Nagacadan), as well as other points of interest (Ifugao Museum, Tappia Falls, Yamashita Shrine).
The program is just one of the tour avenues that PhilTOA is currently exploring for inclusion into the roster of Volunteer Tourism packages, and will be included in the tour products that will be available to travelers in the upcoming Philippine Travel Mart which will have a fixed monthly schedule for one year.
Restoring the Economy
With their unique natural and cultural properties, Cruz also explains how UNESCO World Heritage Sites have become major contributors to tourism in our country. He further stresses the importance of conservation efforts, considering that tourism is a major driver of the Philippine economy.
In cooperation with the government, PhilTOA has been actively leading tourism in key heritage sites, driving economies in these areas. To meet the Department of Tourism’s (DoT) goal of increasing tourist influx to 4.2 million this year from just 3.7 million in 2011, PhilTOA has been spearheading projects such as the Philippine Travel Mart, which is set for August 10-12 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.
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The Philippine Tour Operators Association (PhilTOA), Inc. is an organization of tour operators and allied members actively involved in the advocacy of responsible tourism. Founded on 12 June 1986, the non-stock, non-profit organization’s members include travel agencies, hotel, resorts, transportation companies, and other tourism-oriented establishments and associations.