‘More than Bangon tours’

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Friday, January 17, 2014


MEMBERS of the Network of Independent Travel Agencies (Nitas) have signified their continued support for the Bangon Tours program of the Department of Tourism (DOT), saying it will help boost tourism particularly in calamity-stricken areas.

Robert Lim Joseph, founder and president of Nitas, said the Bangon Tours is an effective marketing program to lure tourists to come back to the Philippines, despite an earthquake and typhoon Yolanda last year.

He said it’s high time that all tourism players worked together to recover from the losses incurred by the tourism sector during the calamities.

According to the Tourism Board Promotions (TBP) of the Philippines, the Bangon Tours Project supports the government’s recovery and rebuilding efforts for the survivors.

The marketing arm of the DOT said it is an invitation to the Filipino market to travel within the Philippines during the holiday period from December to February, visit fun destinations and participate in rebuilding efforts.

Cebu and Bohol were among the 16 areas initially identified to be featured for Bangon Tours, as proposed by the Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) and Philippine Tours Association (Philtoa).

Other areas include Ilocos, Tuguegarao, Baguio, Batangas-Puerto Galera, Manila-Tagaytay, Puerto Princesa, Baler, Bicol, Davao, Iloilo, Boracay, Siargao, CDO-Camiguin, and Batanes.

However, Bangon Tour offerings will not be limited to these destinations, the TBP said.

Support for rebuilding

The project is also geared toward encouraging the private sector to share a percentage of their net income from the Bangon Tours with their chosen local foundation or non-government organization or any of the following charitable institutions—Gawad Kalinga, Philippine Red Cross, Unicef and World Vision.

While the Bangon Tours aims to sustain domestic tourism, Joseph said tourism infrastructure and tour packages would play crucial roles in this project. He reiterated the country’s need for decent roads going to the airport and the expansion of airport facilities.

“Big investments are coming in for the tourism sector so we should put in place the needed infrastructure,” said Joseph.

He stressed that the government should pursue building an international airport in Cavite to decongest the traffic in NAIA Terminals 1 and 2, which have been operating way above their original designed capacities of 4.5 million and 7.5 million annually.

As for Cebu, Joseph said while development of Mactan airport expansion is underway, the government should now start planning the airport’s second runway.

“We’ve seen the situation in Naia and Cebu shouldn’t be copying it. Cebu should be forward-looking,” he said.

Nitas is a newly revived organization that helps small travel agency players in the country. It has 240 members nationwide. The group is scheduled to meet with Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez next month for a dialogue on tourism strategies and the promised support infrastructure and public works for the sector.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 18, 2014.

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