This year, Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) Travel Tour Expo 2014 is the biggest and the most-awaited event of all from those in the travel industry, tour operators, travel junkies and tourists.
If you want to get a load of what Guam, Japan, Korea, Taipei, China, Malaysia, Thailand or what our favorite vacation places like Palawan, Boracay, Marinduque, Cebu, among others has to offer, you still have until today to join and see what this year’s PTAA Travel Tour Expo 2014 has to offer.
This year is also PTAA‘s 21st Travel Tour Expo. Entrance is only Php 50 (regular).
Airlines like Qatar, Singapore Airlines, Air Asia, Cebu Pacific, Tigerair, and others are giving-away very big discounts and raffle prizes including round-trip airfares to lucky participants. So do drop by today and book your travel destination at a very low price.
Here is the full *privilege speech of His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III, President of the Philippines at the PTAA 21st Travel Tour Expo 2014 [Delivered at the SMX Convention Center, Pasay City, on February 14, 2014]:
“Excellencies of the Diplomatic Corps; may I pay special attention to the Ambassador of South Africa, who is one of our regular visitors to all of the tourist sites and who is actively promoting our tourism–Thank you, your Excellency; Secretary Mon Jimenez; Senator Sonny Angara; Mrs. Angara; Mayor Tony Calixto; Mr. John Paul Calbalza; Mr. Mariano Ragaza III; officers and members of the Philippine Tourism Travel Agencies Association; exhibitors and tourism partners; fellow workers in government; ladies and gentlemen; mga minamahal ko pong kababayan:
Magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat.
Whenever I attend events such as this, I cannot help but remember a trip I took earlier on in my Presidency to the Puerto Princesa Underground River—one of our national treasures, and now one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. The experience was unforgettable. Not only was I able to marvel at the beauty of nature, I was also able to gather some interesting pieces of information, thanks to our very vibrant tour guide. Yes, like any tour guide, he recited facts and figures, but he also talked about the snakes and the bats that inhabit the area. Of course, he neglected to tell us that no poisonous snakes had been found until the end of the ride. Perhaps that was part of the trip. Nevertheless, he greatly enhanced our experience. He was a non-stop chatterbox, which meant that there was never a dull moment.
The attitude and the passion of our tour guide perhaps best illustrate the large role our local communities must fulfill in growing our tourism destinations. It is of utmost importance that—like the community in Puerto Princesa—they are involved not merely in maximizing the benefits of their assets, but also in preserving them. It is a clear signal: It is only through the efforts of all stakeholders—whether those in government, in the private sector, or in the local communities—that our tourism industry will continue, and perhaps even accelerate, its growth.
I made it a point to be here today to show my full support to your industry in this endeavor. Tourism, after all, is a low-lying fruit for our country; and from the beginning, our administration knew that if we can harness the beauty and the hospitality that our country is known for, then without doubt, it would be another massive step taken in growing our economy in an inclusive manner. Now, with the help of those present here, those working in the Department of Tourism, and the local communities, we are unleashing the potential of Philippine tourism—showing the world that, truly, it is more fun in the Philippines.
Year after year, we remain on track for our targets—sometimes even exceeding them. For instance, we surpassed our initial target of 35.5 million domestic travelers five years ahead of schedule, with 37.5 million travelers in 2011 alone. This prompted us to pursue an even more ambitious target. Now, Secretary Mon Jimenez has the fun task of meeting, or better yet, surpassing our new 2016 target of just 56.1 million domestic travelers. [Applause]
I’m sure there are those who are doubting the figures. Perhaps, we can ask them if they can talk to people who were in Baguio either for Chinese New Year or during the Christmas holidays if indeed our domestic tourism is really on such a high.
In 2012, we reached another milestone by surpassing the four-million international arrival mark. And despite the calamities that the Philippines endured in 2013, this figure still grew by 10 percent to 4.7 million international arrivals last year. The good news is that, while the growth of international arrivals was affected last year, we found that international tourists have been spending more money on their visits here—with average daily expenditures among them increasing by 8.7 percent.
I am certain that those of you here are feeling the progress we have made. I am told this Expo is targeting four to eight thousand more visitors this year, and are expecting an approximate income—I think the number was incorrect—of P600 million, 64 percent higher than your income last year.
The Philippines is making a transition to becoming one of the best places to visit in the world. Just to give you a few examples, our country is one of the top ten destinations by Rough Guides in 2014, one of the 46 places to go by the New York Times in 2013, the Best Tropical Island Destination by the Shanghai Morning Post in 2013, and, fittingly, the Most Romantic Destination by the same publication in 2012. Indeed: the whole world is in on the secret.
Of course, we cannot be satisfied with what we have achieved so far. The goal now is not merely to maintain our growth, but to cement our position as one of the world’s vacation hot spots. This is why our administration has been hard at work to ensure that visitors find their travels smooth and worry-free. By implementing reforms in civil aviation, by liberalizing airspace through the Pocket Open Skies Policy, and by rationalizing taxes on foreign carriers, we have created more opportunities for both local and foreign airlines to expand operations in and out of the Philippines. This redounds to benefits for consumers, who now have more freedom and a wider menu of options when planning their trips. All this is happening even as we continue to make massive investments in infrastructure—from constructing and rehabilitating roads leading to tourism clusters, to upgrading airports and ports in key areas.
Those of you here, of course, are likewise part of our success and of our collective work to accelerate the growth of our tourism sector. So, while I am here to thank and congratulate you for your contributions; I also challenge you to go beyond what you have already done. It is not just about sustaining the appeal of already favored destinations; it is also about discovering and marketing hidden destinations. It is not just about getting tourists to visit the Philippines once, but getting them to return. The possibilities ahead are limitless now that the world knows that it is indeed more fun in the Philippines—and each one of us is asked to do his part to realize these possibilities.
Thus, I pose a question to all of you today: have we, as a nation, gone the extra mile to make our tourists the happiest visitors to the Philippines—the most fun place on earth? Have we, like that tour guide in Puerto Princesa, done everything within our capabilities to show visitors what there is to love about our country?
It is my hope that you keep these in mind as you welcome the attendees to this Expo. Though I am aware that the success of any business balances profit with customer satisfaction, I hope that you remember our collective goal goes beyond making sales and booking trips. What we want is for both domestic and international tourists to become advocates of the Philippines—visitors who will return again and again to explore every corner, every peak, every shoreline of our archipelago, and encourage their friends and family to do the same. To achieve this, we need all of you to become advocates of our country—first, to go above and beyond your normal responsibilities, to do everything you can towards the resounding success of each and every trip, even as we in government continues to do our part. This is the true measure of a successful tourism program—a program where all avenues for growth are explored, where opportunities are ever-expanding, and where each and every Filipino does their best to make sure that it stays more fun in the Philippines.
Thank you. Good day.”
*As published and seen on Offical Gazette.
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