Gov’t misses 2016 tourist ar­rivals tar­get

Manila Bulletin - - Business News - By BERNIE CAHILES-MAGKILAT

Tourist ar­rivals in 2016 into the coun­try reached only 5.9 mil­lion, miss­ing the govern­ment’s 6 mil­lion tar­get by 100,000, damp­ened by sev­eral ty­phoons that vis­ited the coun­try last year and caus­ing the can­cel­la­tion of 200 in­ter­na­tional and do­mes­tic flights and sev­eral tours in the month of De­cem­ber alone.

Ce­sar R. Vil­lanueva, of­fi­cerin-charge for in­dus­try re­la­tions and ser­vices divi­sion of the Tourism Pro­mo­tions Board, told a press con­fer­ence at the launch of the 24TH Philip­pine Travel Agen­cies As­so­ci­a­tion’s (PTAA) 2017 Travel Expo that the govern­ment is more bullish this year as it eyes 6.5 mil­lion in tourist ar­rivals or 10 per­cent higher than 2016.

The PTAA was quick to put the blame on the lower tourist ar­rivals to the nat­u­ral calami­ties last year. Mar­ciano Ragaza, PTAA Vice-Chair­man for the Travel Tour Expo (TTE), said that had it not for the nat­u­ral calami­ties, tourism ar­rivals last year could have per­formed bet­ter.

“Nat­u­ral calami­ties do not only af­fect agri­cul­ture but tourism as well,” Ragaza said de­scrib­ing 2016 as “ter­ri­ble” year for travel agen­cies as their num­ber of can­cel­la­tion of tourist book­ings en­sued due to bad weather. In De­cem­ber alone, there were 200 flight can­cel­la­tions, both in­ter­na­tional and do­mes­tic flights en­su­ing tour can­cel­la­tions.

For this year, how­ever, the PTAA ap­peared more bullish than the De­part­ment of Tourism’s tar­get of 6.5 mil­lion.

Travel Tour Expo Chair­man Mari Michelle Reyes-Vic­to­ria said they ex­pect to gen­er­ate more tourist ar­rivals this year than last year with two ma­jor events hap­pen­ing in the Philip­pines this year start­ing with the host­ing of the Miss Uni­verse beauty pageant and the ASEAN Lead­ers Sum­mit.

At the 24TH TTExpo slated on Fe­bru­ary 10-12 at SMX Con­ven­tion Cen­ter in Pasay City, Vic­to­ria said there are 311 ex­hibitors par­tic­i­pat­ing as against 331 last year. Vic­to­ria said there are fewer ex­hibitors this year be­cause most of them have oc­cu­pied more boot h spa­ces than they did in 2016 to ac­com­mo­date more vis­i­tors.

The PTAA also ex­pects to sur­pass last year’s record high vis­i­tors of over 100,000 as the expo of­fered the best avail­able travel tour pack­ages.

“We have seen hol­i­day and busi­ness trav­el­ers, in­cen­tive and con­ven­tion plan­ners go to the expo to get the best pos­si­ble travel deals,” Vic­to­ria said.

Since 2011, the ex­port, which largely caters to the do­mes­tic mar­ket, had grown by 30 per­cent hav­ing oc­cu­pied three malls to cov­er­ing all of the nine halls of the SMX Con­ven­tion Cen­ter.

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