HOT AIR BALLOON. This year's Hot Air Balloon Festival opens at the San Lazaro Leisure Park in Carmona, Cavite on Friday (March 6, 2020). Visitors will be treated to a spectacle of colorful hot air balloons, flying exhibitions, and other air sports during the event from March 6 to 8. (PNA photo by Avito C. Dalan)

MANILA – The Department of Tourism (DOT) hailed the successful opening of the Flying Carnival 2020 on Friday.

Expected to attract more than 45,000 spectators from March 6 to 8, the Flying Carnival 2020 is the first Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta (PIHABF) to be staged outside Clark, Pampanga, its venue partner for 22 years.

“We hope that with the success of this event, we can encourage the development of tourism establishments in Carmona, particularly hotels, which can cater to attendees of the future editions of the Flying Carnival, and other sports and leisure attractions in the area,” DOT 4-A (Calabarzon) officer-in-charge Marites Castro said.

Castro said DOT initiatives are in place to help Calabarzon recover after the Taal volcano eruption earlier this year.

“We are very thankful to the organizers of the PIHABF, now that they are here in Calabarzon. Events like the Flying Carnival 2020 are very important in boosting the country’s domestic tourism, which is now the DOT’s main direction as announced by our Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat,” she said.

As a precautionary measure amid the global health scare brought about by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), organizers have installed thermal and closed-circuit television (CCTVs) cameras at the event gates to closely monitor the visitors’ temperature and identification before entry.

“We would like to share ballooning and aviation to everyone around the Philippines, and I think this is the first step,” said PIHABF Event Director Captain Joy Roa, who mentioned the group’s plans to take the event to other parts of the Philippines in the coming years.

Staying true to its “A weekend of (almost) everything that flies” tagline, the Flying Carnival 2020 features paragliding and kite-flying, aircraft displays, different species of birds, paramotor and drone racing events, and a special Night Glow show on the evening of March 8, similar to the drone show at the closing ceremony of the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games that was hosted by the Philippines.

Visitors can expect hot air balloons in different shapes and colors operated by skilled pilots from Belgium, Japan, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom (UK), as well as exciting new acts from paramotor pilots from the Philippines, Japan, Korea, and France. A team of experienced skydivers from the UK will also present their formation flying performance throughout the weekend.

Resource speakers from the Philippine air force and navy, Cebu Pacific, and Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines will share their expertise and experiences in a series of seminars for aviation enthusiasts, hobbyists, and the youth who are interested in pursuing a career in the aviation industry.

Dubbed as the Center for Investment and Sports in Cavite, Carmona boasts of several world-class facilities for such activities as horse racing, paragliding, motorcycle racing, karting, and golf. (PR)