At the opening of the 23rd Philippine Travel Mart this morning (August 10, Friday), Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. assured the public and the tourism industry that the devastating monsoon rains that struck Metro Manila and nearby provinces this week will not affect the influx of tourists in the country.
Jimenez was the guest of honor of the yearly travel expo organized by the Philippine Tour Operators Association (PHILTOA). Now on its 23rd year, Philippine Travel Mart is the biggest annual three-day gathering of tour operators, hotels, resorts, and travel-related industries from all over the country. This year, the expo has over 250 exhibitors occupying all four halls of the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City from August 10 to 12.
According to the secretary, the recent monsoon rains that flooded several parts of Luzon would hurt businesses, but would not have any negative effect on the country’s image. Jimenez said, “It will affect business in Manila and other areas, yes, temporarily. But flooding is not a permanent condition; it’s not our image.”
“There is always sunshine in the Philippines, and that is what we’re trying to promote,” he added.
He also expressed confidence in reaching the 4.6 million tourists targeted by the government by the end of the year, stating that the capability of the country to handle tourists will be the only challenge in reaching the said goal. “Aabot ho tayo. Malakas naman ang demand pool ng Pilipinas ngayon, talagang maraming [gustong pumunta]. Magkakatalo na lang sa abilidad nating i-absorb,” he said.
(“We will reach that goal. There is a strong demand pool in the country today, a lot of people really want to travel to the Philippines. The crucial factor would be in our ability to absorb the influx of tourists.”)
Also, he stressed the importance of public-private partnership in upgrading the nation’s capability to serve tourists better, stating that it is the “most significant” factor to hit the 4.6-million-tourist mark.
Meanwhile, Cesar Cruz, president of Philippine Tour Operators Association (PHILTOA), cited the event as the “most challenging Philippine Travel Mart” ever.
“Doing the Philippine Travel Mart is not really that easy, but this is the most challenging. Metro Manila has been flooded, access to the venue was almost totally impossible, Metro Manila has been pictured in the media as an area of calamity, and then you’re coming out with this event,” Cruz said.
Despite the problems faced by the association in organizing the said event, PHILTOA proudly unveiled this year’s Sale ng Bayan, discounts and promos for group travels and tours to attract local and foreign tourists alike.
This year, the much-awaited Sale ng Bayan features places like the Boracay for only Php957 per head, and Batanes for Php1,800 each. Inclusive of transportation and lodging, Sale ng Bayan aims to promote tourism by giving discounts to groups of tourists.