Familiarization exchanges eyed

By: Victor Anthony V. Silva January 31,2017 - 10:08 PM
Hot air balloons get ready to take to the skies in this 2014 edition of the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in Pampanga province in Central Luzon. (INQUIRER FILE PHOTO)

Hot air balloons get ready to take to the skies in this 2014 edition of the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in Pampanga province in Central Luzon. (INQUIRER FILE PHOTO)

C. Visayas, C. Luzon tourism players to study each others’ products so that they can help market them

“You can’t sell what you don’t know.”

Director Catalino Chan III of the Department of Tourism in Central Visayas (DOT-7) said this amid the plan to hold “familiarization exchanges” this month between Central Visayas and Central Luzon tourism stakeholders.

Chan said he was working with his Central Luzon counterpart to hold this “familiarization exchanges” so that tourism stakeholders could sustain gains brought about by additional domestic routes between two regions.

“We have our responsibility to make. We’ve been craving for more flights so now that they are here, it would not be right if we didn’t help,” Chan told Cebu Daily News.

Better tour packages

Chan said he was hoping that the initiative would help tour operators and travel agents make better tour packages.

Chan’s familiarization exchanges plan was made after the national flag-carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) inaugurated last Monday its flight from Cebu to Clark in Pampanga, which is available non-stop four times weekly.

Airline officials noted that this would strengthen the linkages between Cebu and Clark in terms of tourism, education, and business, among others.

It was also seen to make Central and Northern Luzon more accessible to those coming from the south through Cebu, making it easier to access Baguio, Vigan, or even Pagudpud.

“Our research shows that there really is a need to open more direct flights to the north so that tourists will no longer transit to Manila,” said Chan.

Sustaining gains

He said that the best way to ensure the sustainability of new domestic flights is to make tourism stakeholders of each destination familiar with one another’s products.

Chan said the series of exchanges will involve travel agents, tour operators, and members of the media.

He said the activity would not only cover Clark and Cebu, but also surrounding areas such as Bohol, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor in Central Visayas.

Central Luzon or Region 3 is composed of the provinces of Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Aurora, Zambales, Pampanga, Bulacan, and Bataan.

While Cebu is known for its pristine white beaches as well as emerging eco-tourism and adventure spots, Clark and its surrounding localities have their share of mountains, hot springs, and theme parks.

Hot Air Balloon Fest

He said that Central Visayas stakeholders will get to visit Clark first, in time for freeport zone’s famous annual Hot Air Balloon festival which is set to happen from Feb. 9 to 12.

Now on its 21st year, the Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta (PIHABF) is a gathering of aviators from the Philippines and the world.

Approximately 60,000 locals and tourists attend the annual event.

Edilberto Mendoza, president of the Cebu Association of Tour Operators (CATO), welcomed the initiative of the DOT.

“That would be great news for all of us,” he said.

He said operators across regions maintain close links with one another in terms of selling tour packages.

Mendoza said that the DOT initiative will help region 3 operators sell Cebu destinations and region 7 counterparts sell destinations in Clark.

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TAGS: Cebu, Central Visayas, package, tour, tour package, tourism, tourist, tourists

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