By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora
The Philippines’ largest travel fair officially opened on Thursday with the country’s key tourism players all gathered at the SMX Convention Center for its ribbon-cutting ceremony.
This year, the three-day 26th Travel Tour Expo (TTE) features 400 travel and tourism-related entities, including eight national tourism organizations (NTO) — Guam Visitors Bureau, Hong Kong Tourism Board, Japan National Tourism Organization, Korea Tourism Organization, Singapore Tourism Board, Taiwan Tourism Bureau, Tokyo Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
The expo will be open to the public from February 8 to 10.
TTE organizing committee chairperson, Marlene Dado Jante, said attendees can expect exclusive tour packages only available at the expo and even food offers “that could rival the best food parks in the country.”
Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) president, Ritchie Tuaño, said the TTE is the only expo that fills up both floors of the SMX Convention, the largest private venue.
“We’re the only travel expo that fills it up, and there are a lot more on the waiting list that we cannot accommodate,” he told reporters in an interview.
Tuaño said TTE serves as a one-stop shop for travel needs, such as airfare, accommodation, and packages. “In here, all the airlines, tour operators, and hotels, they really slash their rates to make it more affordable from 50 (percent) to 70 percent, depending on which category,” he said.
“At the Travel Tour Expo, even as they push their respective businesses, they also work together to provide the public with the best opportunity to travel to any destination in the world,” Tuaño added.
He noted that the event has been a “boost” to Philippine tourism for the past 26 years, particularly domestic tourism.
In 2018, the Philippines recorded 7.13 million international arrivals while domestic travel almost hit the 100 million mark — both record highs.
Senator Nancy Binay, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Tourism, expressed confidence the PTAA would surpass its 135,000-person target for the 2019 TTE.
Binay said travel fairs, such as the Travel Tour and Expo, should become a venue in making the country’s destinations more affordable and accessible to more tourists.
“This is how we can bridge the sustainable growth of rural communities, provide our countrymen jobs, and help lift our fellow citizens from poverty,” she said. (PNA)