MANILA – The 2024 Travel Tour Expo (TTE), touted as the biggest travel fair of its kind in the Philippines, has opened its doors to the public on Friday, offering discounted tour packages to popular and undiscovered destinations across the country.
One of the unique offerings at the three-day expo are discounted tours to Spratlys for leisure travelers.
Kalayaan municipality tourism officer Ken Hupanda, who was manning the town’s TTE booth, said the Spratly tours was piloted in March 2023 and had journalists as its first clients.
Months since the launch, Hupanda said the week-long tours had managed to attract local and foreign travelers, majority of whom are sport fishing enthusiasts and scuba divers.
“We have accommodated foreign tourists already. For the organic, our first batch of local tourists and fishing enthusiasts was able to capture a record-breaking size of tuna, (the biggest) in the whole Palawan—a 74-kilogram tuna around Pag-asa Island,” he said.
The tours, which range from PHP40,500 to PHP150,000, have already catered to at least 80 travelers since March.
The most expensive is the Kalayaan Fish and Dive Expedition, with inclusions of liveaboard accommodation, camping/homestay in Pag-asa Island, full board meals for a seven-day-six-night tour to Pag-asa, Lawak Island, Patag Island, and Likas Island in the West Philippine Sea.
Hupanda said there will be four Spratly leisure trips scheduled for 2024, more than 50 percent of which were in fact already booked.
Apart from local destinations, the Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA)-organized TTE is also selling heavily discounted tour offers in international destinations from full travel packages down to visa services.
The TTE 2024 hosts over 200 participating exhibitors with 702 booths and is expected to generate at least 100,000 in foot traffic.
The other booths are airlines, domestic and international travel agencies and tour operators, hotels and resorts, cruise liners and shipping, and merchandisers, among others.
“Post-pandemic, many travelers are eager to make up for lost time. Revenge travel has undeniably played a role in the resurgence of tourism. But more importantly, people have realized that life is short. This renewed eagerness to travel, to live life and experience other places and cultures is definitely long-term,” PTAA President Evangeline Tankiang-Manotok said.
Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco also graced the TTE opening ceremony and encouraged more travelers to visit Filipino destinations.
She also backed PTAA’s efforts to boost travel activities across the country as she highlighted the Department of Tourism’s target to reach more than 7 million tourists by end of 2024.
“Upon all of our shoulders rests the necessity of sustaining tourism for the years to come and we are called to steer the industry to new opportunities, hence, 2023 was a year of innovation. And we are hopeful that 2024 will be another year of exceeding expectations,” she said.
The TTE 2023 will run from Feb. 2 to 4 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay. (PNA)