, January 31, 2005  (STAR)  By Carla Paras-Sison   -  For the past 12 years, the Philippine travel season has started with the holding of the TravelTour Expo by the Philippine Travel Agencies Association.

"The expo is always held before the peak season of the Lenten season, Holy Week, and the children’s summer vacation," said Lucille Chabeldin, chairman of the event’ s organizing committee and concurrent president of First Metro Travelex, Inc. "The expo provides information to the traveling public and gives them a venue for making business or leisure travel arrangements, often at special promotional discounts made available only during the event."

This year’s expo will be held on Feb. 4-6 at the three Megatrade halls of SM Megamall.


Previously mounted by the PTTA as a trade fair for members, TravelTour has now expanded its participants to include non-PTAA members as well as the national tourism offices of China, Hong Kong, Guam, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand.

"We expect 70,000 visitors," said Chabeldin. "In the last two years, we have seen a dramatic rise in domestic tourism, in part because of security threats abroad and the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome. I do not have the statistics but, if we use as a gauge the full-house status of resorts and tourist hotels and the vibrant activities among local tour operators due largely from local bookings, it is safe to say that local tourism is growing dramatically."

The PTTA has also noted the growth of independent travelers who want greater flexibility in their travels and who do not want to be tied to restrictive tour schedules whether here or abroad.

"Leisure travel customers are now more involved in planning their itineraries. They no longer leave it all to the travel agent. We also have very sophisticated business travelers who know what they want. They say what flight they want to take, which hotel they want to stay in. They want complete control of their trips," said Chabeldin.

A major highlight of TravelTour is a local tourism investment seminar, which is co-sponsored by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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