By Minerva Newman
CEBU CITY – More than 100 tour and travel operators in Cebu have set up booths at the Ayala Activity Center for the 6th International Travel Festival (ITF) that opened Friday.
The festival is the largest travel show in Central Visayas.
ITF general manager Stephanie Villahermosa said the ITF is an annual event organized by the leaders and stakeholders in the travel and tour industry to bring to the traveling public not only the best travel deals but also the source of inspiration.
Villahermosa said when it comes to travel most people rely on trade shows and consumer fairs and the ITF for six years now has always been one of the most anticipated festivals in Cebu in July as people looked forward to cheaper travel deals.
Event themes through the years include endless wonders, endless possibilities as people widen their world to just go because at the festival all possible dream travel destinations are covered including world cruises, Villahermosa added.
According to the Department of Tourism (DOT-7) development officer Gelena Dimpas that events like these are what the DOT is lobbying and promoting to increase tourist arrivals. Travel fairs create inspirations closer to travelers from a mere dream into an exciting reality.
Cebu’s improved connectivity with 1,600 flights to other countries has made the ITF an event to watch and it has brought increasing demand of international and local tourism products and services more accessible to travelers, Dimpas said.
“In 2018 tourist arrivals came from South Korea, China, US, Japan, Australia among others and the country especially Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental and Siquijor have developed new tour packages including farm, culinary, culture, faith, and Island tourism,” Dimpas noted.
The ITF 2019 organizers said that China is an emerging destination for Filipinos including Hanoi, Cambodia, Beijing, Shanghai while domestic beaches in Siargao, Boracay, Coron, and other islands are trending destinations which travelers can find during the travel festival.
Harry Inoferio, Senior AVP for Sales, Philippine Airlines (PAL) said that exchanges between countries are important too in opening more routes. “It is in travel fairs and exhibitions that people discover their dream destinations at cheaper prices.
There are usual staple packages in travel festivals that include Japan, Korea, Hongkong, Singapore, Bangkok, Guam, North America. For family and leisure, mostly South East Asia, Europe, North America and this year we have Australia, Dubai, and Tel-Aviv that are becoming very popular as travel destinations by Filipinos.