People relax along White Beach amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, Boracay Island, Aklan. (Photo Reuters)

After a two-year hiatus, the Philippine Tour Operators Association (PHILTOA), Inc. announces the return of the Philippine Travel Mart (PTM) for its 33rd year themed “Safe Travels”.

A safer and more relaxed environment awaits eager travelers seeking memorable tropical adventures.

Fe Abling-Yu, President of PHILTOA, said this year’s edition will be the largest Philippine Travel Mart to date.

“We’ve been waiting for a long time and now is the perfect time to travel again, support local businesses and explore the Philippines and beyond,” Yu said.

The three-day travel expo begins September 30 and will feature more than 200 exhibits from local and international attendees showcasing exclusive domestic and international travel packages, some of which offer the best value for every traveler. With sustainable tourism and community engagement in mind, PTM only partners with reputable agencies and businesses.

Each year, it’s part of the exhibition’s mission to highlight new discoveries for travelers to explore, while showcasing the best islands in the archipelago: from world-renowned award-winning islands to cultural hotspots for experience the rich and vibrant history and culture of Filipinos.

New discoveries

With all regions of the Philippines participating in the three-day event, this is the best place to learn about the wonders of Luzon, the riches of the Visayas and the colors of Mindanao.

Local tourism is at the forefront of the show with an area dedicated to the different offers: Yellow Zone for MICE and Entertainment; Blue zone for the beach, cruises and water sports; Green zone for cultural and agro/agricultural/ecotourism tourism; and Pink Zone for health, well-being and gastronomy.

Each area is packed with information and offers from duly accredited travel and excursion agencies, hotels and resorts, theme parks, airlines, as well as provincial and regional agencies.

“There are so many reasons to explore the Philippines and our ASEAN neighbors,” Yu added.

“We hope visitors will find amazing deals at PTM, as well as gain more knowledge about our own country.”

There will be interactive booths showcasing regions of the Philippines and the largest of these will be the Mindanao exhibit.

Travelers of all ages and budget levels will find something to explore at the PTM with Asean tour packages to breathtaking Bali, historic Siem Reap and bustling Ho Chi Minh.

Other packages to must-see Asian destinations like Japan, Malaysia and South Korea are also available at the expo.

Taking the exhibition to more high-tech and convenient heights, visitors can scan exhibitors’ QR codes to find their locations and conduct paperless transactions.

Whether customers are traveling for business or leisure, solo or in a group, the Philippine Travel Mart will give them more reason to pack their bags and go exploring.

Connectivity, Convenience

At the launch event, Christina Garcia-Frasco, DOT Secretary, identified hot spots for industry recovery, focusing on connectivity, convenience, and equality.

The head of tourism said connectivity aims to ensure that our tourist destinations are accessible through improved transport networks, affordable travel costs, improved infrastructure and access to gateways.

She added that the DOT will also provide a convenient and better tourism experience for foreign and domestic travelers through standardized travel protocols.

The DOT is also working to develop new regional tourism routes that will highlight nature tourism, MICE tourism, food and gastronomy, our heritage and culture, agritourism and agrotourism, health and well-being. -being, the arts, etc.

“All of these dimensions of tourism will receive equal promotion, attention and support as we expand from the traditional portfolio and move towards multi-dimensional tourism,” she explained.

To protect tourist destinations, sustainable tourism practices will be integrated with broader economic, social and environmental policy considerations within an overall sustainable development framework.

“We must therefore consider the basic elements of sustainable development as benchmarks in the revival and continued recovery of the tourism industry, namely: ecological sustainability, economic sustainability and equity,” Frasco noted.

Significantly, these plans must ensure that no tourist destination is left behind in the development process, she said.

“Distinctly Filipino”

Meanwhile, Frasco said they plan to make improvements to the country’s air and seaports to encapsulate the “Philippine brand” and give tourists a good first and last impression when visiting the Philippines.

In a meeting with Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Jaime J. Bautista, the head of tourism noted that as the main gateway to the country, airports and seaports play a critical role in the overall tourism experience and the tourism value chain.

The DOT, she added, plans to improve existing facilities at airports and seaports by introducing upgrades that will make the ports more aesthetically pleasing, convenient, tourist-friendly and, most importantly, reflect the “Philippine brand.” “.

“In addition to improving convenience for travelers and tourists, DOT is also considering putting a ‘Philippine brand’ in our ports, a good image of the Philippines that would stay in the minds of visitors to the country before visiting different destinations in the Philippines and long after they are gone,” said Secretary Frasco.

Some of the DOT-recommended improvements include the installation of signage that will look uniform across all air and seaports, as well as the use of lighting, backdrops, and furnishings that will distinctly reflect the “brand Filipino”.

Frasco noted that the DOT wants the “experience to be positive for all the senses” and that there will also be interactive exhibits featuring various artists and artisans to make the airport experience extraordinary and experiential for passengers. travellers.

In addition to aesthetically appealing ports, the DOT is also pushing for a stress-free passenger experience with more efficient service and reduced wait times for passengers. The DOT recommends a single window for land, air, and sea connectivity with the provision of digitized service to facilitate efficiency. The Department has also engaged a tourist assistance office with trained staff to respond to visitor concerns.

Frasco also highlighted the need to provide appropriate functionality and facilities at walkways and transportation hubs for persons with disabilities (PWDs) as part of the Department’s advocacy for barrier-free tourism. The availability of wheelchairs, elevators with disability-friendly features, clearly designated parking spaces for people with disabilities, and check-in counters with low, recessed or split-level counters that can accommodate people seated on wheelchairs were among the DOT proposals.

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