TIME  TO  TRAVEL:  ROOM  RATES,  AIR  FARES  DOWN

MANILA, FEBRUARY 10, 2009
(STAR) By Elisa Osorio - It’s a good time to travel nowadays as air fares have been slashed by as much as 50 percent while room rates are down by 10 percent.

Philippine Travel Agents Association (PTAA) vice president John Paul Cabalza said air fares have gone down by more than 50 percent to encourage more people to take a trip.

“There are some airlines that offer airfares for as low as P1,500 roundtrip for Palawan or Boracay,” he said.

Room rates have also gone down by 10 percent, still in an attempt to prop up domestic tourism to offset the slack in international tourism.

Because of the slowdown in the global economy, the government said tourism will have a negative growth or a flat growth at best.

“Maybe we can experience a little growth if the domestic tourism picks up. We see this happening. I think this is the trend,” Cabalza said over the weekend at the sidelines of the three-day travel expo at the SMX Convention Center.

“Instead of traveling overseas, people opt to go to local destinations and the cheap fares encourage people to travel. Who can resist a bargain,” he said.

With the air fare and room rate cuts, domestic tourism is expected to increase by 15 percent.

The anticipated increase will come from travels of associations like the Philippine Medical Association, the government sector and various schools, Cabalza said.

He said the months of November until May are considered the peak seasons of travel.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) has signed an agreement with the Department of Tourism in an attempt to encourage more investments in the tourism sector by creating tourism economic zones.

“The signing of this supplemental MOA signals the country’s strong investor confidence despite the global crunch. In fact, we expect a boost in investment as we offer lower costs in workforce, construction and tourism infrastructure development,” Tourism Secretary Joseph Durano said.

The supplemental MOA will give Special Economic Zone status to tourism development zones or tourism estates.

Pursuant to Republic Act 7916, as amended by RA 8748, tourism development zones/tourism estates may be granted Special Economic Zone Status upon registration to PEZA and issuance of the required presidential proclamation. PEZA, however, will only consider proposed development tourism zones endorsed by the DOT.

“Tourism is seen to be one of the strongest propellers of the economy for the year ahead. Together with the government, we seek to intensify the impact of this industry on the economy, particularly by encouraging investments and creating opportunities for tourism economic zones,” Durano explained.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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