Curated tour packages around the Philippines, including to the tropical southernmost islands of Tawi-Tawi in Mindanao, will be put on sale at the 2019 Philippine Travel, which will open on Friday.
In a press launch on Tuesday, Philippine Tour Operators Association (PHILTOA) President Cesar Cruz said relatively new destinations will be introduced to the public.
“The Tawi-Tawi tour, we haven’t introduced it yet in our previous expo. We had been advocating on creating tour offering as we realize what really connects the Philippines and Southeast Asia, Tawi-Tawi is the nearest province to Malaysia. We also saw the diversity of Zamboanga and Tawi-Tawi — a Christian city and an Islamic province,” he told reporters in an interview.
Most of the few who had a chance to visit Tawi-Tawi had praised the island’s unspoiled beaches and breathtaking dive sites. But with news of bandits and lawless groups in the area, Tawi-Tawi had always been an unlikely travel destination to many.
According to Cruz, the tours that will be offered at the expo from August 30 to September 1 are well coordinated with the local government unit where the tourist’s security is a top priority.
“Ang ginagawa namin dito ngayon (What we are doing now), for the meantime, everything is coordinated with the LGU (local government unit). Although there are accredited tour operators in Tawi-Tawi, they still have a system and are well-coordinated with the LGU, where security measures are in place,” he said.
“Eventually, we hope to achieve that you can do-it-yourself travel experience to Tawi-Tawi and Zamboanga. But for the meantime we still need to coordinate with the LGU,” he pointed out.
Featuring their “Sale ng Bayan”, this year’s Philippine Travel Mart edition will offer up to 70 percent off travel packages, accommodations, and airfare, including to popular tourist sites like Palawan and Camiguin.
At least 250 exhibitors ranging from tours and travel agencies, hotels/resorts, theme parks, airlines, provincial and regional are expected to occupy the four halls of the SMX Convention Center.
Last year’s event showcased 294 booths, with 257 exhibitors. The foot traffic also reached 47,449 guests and exhibitors’ reported sales went to around PHP69 million. (PNA)