Last year, the Automobile Association Philippines (AAP) in partnership with the Department of Tourism (DOT) organized the first Asia Pacific Drive Tourism Conference, Auto and Travel Show. Its objective was to strengthen partnership and cooperation among countries promoting sustainable tourism through “Drive Tourism” as a major contributor to economic growth and as an effective medium in achieving the goals of the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020. The event also kicked off the DOT’s Drive Tourism initiative.
This is how Drive-Tourism began: In 2009, AAP Lakbay Inc. was established to serve the travel needs of AAP members in particular and the motoring public in general. Aiming to provide AAP members a quick online roadmap to key tourist destinations in the country, AAP Lakbay developed a website and started organizing caravans. In 2012, AAP Lakbay became a full-fledged travel agency and started to use the trade name AAP Travel. Through the partnership of AAP Travel and the International School of Sustainable Tourism (ISST) with the coordination of regional DOT offices, Drive Tourism Caravans became a regular tourism activity in the country and Drive Tourism was born.
Drive Tourism is an activity where individuals or groups travel using their vehicle or vehicles to see the country’s myriad attractions via the country’s road networks. Instead of driving straight to the destination, the Drive Tourism Caravans move through a tourism highway or road network that allows participants to stop and see many attractions in between the start and end destinations. Moreover, Drive Tourism Caravans are organized according to themes (examples: heritage and culture, outdoor adventure, handicrafts, culinary arts) for a fuller, more focused travel experience.
“Tourists nowadays look for unique travel experiences and Drive Tourism is the answer,” Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez said. “It supports community–based rural tourism spurring economic activities in rural areas while teaching caravan participants road safety practices.”
Over the last three years, AAP Travel organized Drive Tourism Caravans to Ifugao, Zambales, Pampanga, Quezon, Laguna, Mindoro, Rizal and Subic and Negros Occidental. Regular participants travel all the way from La Union, Zamboanga and even Texas, United States to enjoy exploring the country together with family and friends. Ambassadors from Vietnam, Greece, Malaysia, Brunei, South Africa, Pakistan and Turkey have joined the caravans because they feel comfortable and secure while they are immersed in Philippine heritage, arts and culture. On the average, 45 vehicles with 80 to 100 individuals make up a caravan. When the destination is outside Luzon, it is called an AAP Fly-Drive Tourism Caravan.
Since tourism and transportation are interconnected, AAP Travel with the support of the DOT is developing the Subic Children’s Road Safety Park, a 1.3-hectare miniature version of a community complete with roads, traffic signs and pavement markings, public transportation stops and buildings representing public amenities. This project aims to teach children road safety values and improve their knowledge, skills and behavior as road users. FIA president Jean Todt, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, AAP president Gus Lagman and AAP Travel president Mina Gabor attended the groundbreaking rites during the Asia Pacific Drive Tourism Conference in January 2014. Last month, AAP Travel officially opened the project for sponsorship.