The Philippine Tour Operators Association (PHILTOA) and the Department of Tourism (DOT) has launched an interactive project called Island Philippines Fun Caravans to boost tourism growth in the regions.
“Islands Philippines Fun Caravan 2015 provides an experience which is truly interactive. It provides an opportunity for participants to have a real immersion,” DOT Undersecretary for Tourism Development Benito Bengzon Jr. said.
He said tourism should not be about counting tourists but, more importantly, about providing livelihood at the community level, and the Philippines must look for its competitive edge.
“When we were crafting the overall strategy for Philippine tourism which is now embodied in the National Tourism Development Plan, we wanted to capitalize on what we felt were the strengths of the Philippines. And one that we identified was our being a multiple gateway, a multiple destination country,” Bengzon said.
Most of the infrastructure projects that kicked off two or three years ago will be completed next year. Also hotels and resorts under construction will be finished in the next 12 to 24 months.
Philtoa President Cesar Cruz said Islands Philippines Fun Caravan should be institutionalized and should run year-round if it gained support from its members.
“The end vision of the Islands Philippine Fun Caravans is really to make it a regular load product,” Cruz said.
The five major caravans are: the Cordillera Heritage Warrior Caravan, The Southern Luzon Kulinarya; the Visayas Charm Caravan; the Bicol Express; and the Plains and Heights of Central Luzon Caravan.
The minor caravans are as follows: Rediscover Batanes; the Northern Palawan Eco Adventure Discovery; and Hola, Zamboanga.
Each caravan is calendared in different months throughout 2015, lasting from 3 to 7 days, depending on the number of municipalities included.
Cruz said that the caravans are meant to become interactive and there will be programs that will encourage tourists to interact and immerse themselves in the local communities.
“Other facets that are expected to be entailed during each course are a dummy passport which will be stamped by the participating local government unit, mini-trade fairs, a festive welcome reception, and other community-based activities that will highlight the best spots and emerging lifestyle and travel trends in the municipalities included in the itinerary,” Cruz said.
“The Island Philippines Fun Caravans will accommodate both foreign and local markets. They can choose to bring their own vehicles or avail of the caravan vehicle,” he said
The participants also have the option to avail of the accommodations that will be announced prior to the trip—campsite, lodging houses, hostels, or star-rated properties, Cruz said.