BERLIN, Germany: A shorter and quicker flight from Clark International Airport to the world-famous Banaue Rice Terraces is among the Philippines’ diverse offerings in this year’s Internationale Tourismus Borse (ITB) in Messe Berlin. “There’s no better occasion to launch a new air route than in the world’s grandest tourism trade fair. This will complement the activities we are promoting in the European market, particularly for travelers who seek cultural immersion in the Philippines,” Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Wanda Teo said. The DOT head welcomed the active participation of destination management companies (DMCs) such as Wakay Air Services that offers the four-day/three-night package to the Banaue Rice Terraces via Clark International Airport in Angeles City, Pampanga to Bagabag Airport, Nueva Vizcaya. Although there are numerous rice terraces throughout Asia, the Banaue Rice Terraces earned the monicker “the eighth wonder of the world” because of their immensity at 1,500 meters above sea level, as built by the Ifugao ancestors some 2,000 years ago, fed by an ancient irrigation system from the mountain rainforest. The breathtaking Banaue Rice Terraces were listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1995. DOT Director for the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) Marie Venus Tan, who spearheaded the negotiations with Wakay Air Services, said the new air connectivity development will cut by more than half the usual travel time from Manila to Banaue via land that would normally take up to six to eight hours.The flight from Clark to Bagabag Airport in Nueva Vizcaya will take approximately one hour and the magnificent terraces are accessible within 45 minutes. The flights will commence on May 17 with a four-flight weekly schedule on board a 38-seater Dornier plane. “The Cordilleras are all about tradition and exotic culture. This is our strongest selling point because our visitors can experience authentic and truly meaningful cultural immersions that benefit the host communities. We are blessed with rich and fascinating culture we can be very proud of,” Tan said.