Big discounts at PTAA travel expo
Local and international travel organizations will be among the 1,000 booths at the TravelTour Expo organized by the Philippine Travel Agencies Association headed by Ritchie Tuaño (inset above).
Big discounts at PTAA travel expo
Büm D. Tenorio Jr. (The Philippine Star) - January 31, 2020 - 12:00am

Enjoy up to 70 percent travel and tour discounts at the 27th PTAA TravelTour Expo 2020 on Feb. 7 to 9 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.

Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) president Ritchie Tuaño said the travel expo is the association’s commitment to the growing number of Filipino travelers to enjoy their vacations by booking through reputable travel agents and getting their other travel needs from reliable suppliers.

More than 400 exhibitors from the travel agency and tourism enterprise industry will participate in the travel expo. There will be over 1,000 booths, and some 30 participating countries are expected to showcase travel and tour deals of up to 70 percent discount on cruise lines, hotels, theme parks and air fares, with packages available for solo and group travel.

Tuaño said more and more Filipinos can now afford to travel. But not many who have booked their vacations get to have a memorable experience because of “problems in online bookings.”

“To remedy that concern, you should book through a reputable travel agent,” said Tuaño.

“When you speak about traveling, it is about experiencing the destinations, sites, culture, food. And this is where the travel agent comes in when he or she actually curates a holiday for you,” he told The STAR.

He added, “Oftentimes, the misconception is it is cheaper when you book your trips online. While there is a certain degree of truth to that, as a total package it becomes more expensive because what most people don’t account for when they plan their travels on their own is the time they spend.

“The travel agent acts as a support person. If something goes wrong, the travel agent is there – before, during and after your trip. It’s a continuous assistance from start to finish.”

There are 650 PTAA members nationwide.

Being the largest annual gathering on travel and tours – domestic or international – the three-day expo, dubbed “More > Real” expects to welcome more than 100,000 guests, including Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat, the expo’s keynote speaker.

The expo, he said, allows travel agencies and tour operators to give more value to travel buffs, more savings through affordable limited-time deals and “out-of-this-world” promotions.

Aside from the usual places, Tuaño said exotic destinations like South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, the Balkans among others are offered at the travel expo.

“The primary objective of this expo when it was conceptualized 27 years ago was to promote the services of the travel agencies. All travel agents came together and sold their different packages under one roof. Then it evolved to involve airlines, hotels, restaurants, resorts, cruise lines, travel insurance, travel merchandise, luggage suppliers and others. All under one roof,” said Tuaño, who is also general manager of Asiareps Travel Services, Inc.

The human touch is always important when booking one’s travel. Tuaño cited the effects of the Taal Volcano eruption to the travelers whose flights were cancelled.

“The Taal Volcano eruption consequently closed down the airport. If you booked online, how do you actually rearrange your schedule? All the phone lines of the airport were clogged up. Who’s going to help you? You’re left on your own. That’s where the travel agent plays a very important role. We always play support,” he said.

“My phone is on 24/7, if someone is stuck in London at 2 a.m. Philippine time, I am always reachable. That’s how personal the relationship of the travel agent and the client is,” he said.

Tuaño added corporate travelers will also participate in the 5th International TravelTrade Expo 2020, the business-to-business category of the expo taking place on Feb. 2 to 4. This event, he said, is exclusive to registered trade buyers and sellers.

“Travel is a very wise investment. Don’t gamble your hard-earned money; book with a travel agent,” he said.

“It widens our perspective when we travel. When we travel, we develop aspirations also for our country because we learn from the best of the world’s standards.”

PTAA RITCHIE TUAñO
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