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Article: Travel, tour operators to develop new, competitive tour packages for EAGA - 25 Sep 2007
DAVAO CITY (MEDCo) -- ”To offer alternative options to the more prominent tourist destinations in Asia, such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, travel agencies and tour operators in the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines-East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) will formally converge this year to develop and market innovative and competitive tour packages across the EAGA. 

Focusing on Culture, Adventure and Nature (CAN), the establishment of the BIMP-EAGA Consortium of Tour Operators and Travel Agents is projected by the BIMP-EAGA Tourism Council (BETC) as a strategic arm that will seek ways to maximize the region’s potentials as an alternative to mainstream tourist destinations in Asia.

This was one of the major results of the BIMP-EAGA Tourism Value Chain Seminar and the 4th BIMP-EAGA Joint Tourism Development Cluster Meeting, which were both held last month in Brunei Darussalam.  

The consortium’s function in maximizing EAGA’s potentials as a tourist destination will be further explored in today’s (Aug 15) Roundtable Discussion on BIMP-EAGA CAN at the MEDCo Conference Room, as part of an effort to establish joint tourism marketing and promotions for Mindanao and Palawan as one tourism destination in the context of BIMP-EAGA.  

Mary Ann Montemayor, Chair of the Philippine side of the BIMP-EAGA Tourism Council (BETC), said the meeting will identify major CAN destinations in Mindanao and Palawan that will be the major focus of marketing and promotion in BIMP-EAGA with Davao, Zamboanga and Palawan as gateways.

As the consortium will be officially launched during the 3rd BIMP-EAGA TRAVEX in November 2007 in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia, BETC Chairs have now started tapping active travel tour operators and travel agents for membership.

For the Philippine side of the BETC, three tourism organization heads from the Davao Association of Tour Operators (DATO), Davao Tourism Association Agencies (DTAA), and the National Association Independence of Travel Agents (NAITAS), Davao, have already given their commitment to the consortium.  The DOT Regional Directors in Mindanao and Palawan, on the other hand, will identify their respective travel agents and tour operators for the consortium.

Montemayor said the identified consortium may be able to develop competitive tour packages on certain conditions.

First, flights should be made available, as this will set the cost of the tour package.  While travel agents can still develop tour packages without ready flights, the competitiveness will be in question, given the cost to be considered for connecting flights.  

Second, should flights be available, acceptable arrangements should be undertaken by airline companies with tour operators and travel agents, particularly on promo rates.

And third, the presence of committed travel agents who could vigorously sell these tour packages in the market, should be secured.

Once these conditions will be met, the consortium will be able to develop the said competitive packages for BIMP-EAGA.

As such, for the Philippine side, which covers Mindanao and Palawan, CAN destinations that have been initially identified and these include the Underground River in Puerto Princessa, Palawan; Fort Pilar Shrine and Museum; Samal, Yakan and Badjao Villages, Carrera de Zamboanga, Regatta, Game Fishing and Trekking at Pasonanca National Park and Ecozone Trail in Region 9; and the Gardens of Malasag Eco-Tourism Village, 7 Tribes in Bukidnon, Whitewater river rafting/tubing, diving, Canopy Walk, Hot/Cold/Soda Springs, the Misamis Occidental Aquamarine Park (MOAP) in Region 10.

Destinations in other regions include the Tudaya Cultural Village in Sta. Cruz, Mt.Apo Mountain climbing, Spelunking at Kapalong, Davao Norte, White water rafting in Ma-a, Davao City, Dive the Davao Gulf, Samal, the Philippine Eagle Sanctuary, Eden Nature Park, Crocodile Park, Malagos Garden Resort and Puentespina Flower Gardens in Region 11.

For Region 12 and the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), CAN destinations include Lake Sebu, Bila-an Cultural Village, Sarangani River Tubing, Mt. Apo Trekking, Batasan Hot Spring, Tawi-Tawi Turtle Island, Agri Farms and a Bat Sanctuary.  For the Caraga Region, the Balanghai Shrine and Museum, Bo-od Promontory, Surfing at Siargao Island, Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary and Suhoton Cove have been identified.

Corollary to the establishment of the said consortium, other priority activities that will be implemented this year by participants of the said JTD seminar, include the need to establish stronger public-private sector partnership in marketing and promotions between government tourism offices and BETC, as well as complete high-quality tourism information material on BIMP-EAGA.

"It is significant to note that the private tourism sector, along with the government, is conscious of the need to promote BIMP-EAGA as a single tourism destination. This clearly demonstrates the tourism sector's drive to contribute to the government's aspiration for an expanded trade, tourism and investment in the sub-region, said Undersecretary Virgilio Leyretana, Chair of the Mindanao Economic Development Council. (MEDCo)

Posted By: MEDCo 
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