The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Philippines Chapter recently hosted he biggest Travel Forum in the country. Patterned after the very popular Ted Talks in the USA, the association held the fourth edition of their annual forum, which they label as Pinoy Chikka. This year’s theme centered on the latest travel trends.
Held at the Plenary Hall of the Philippine International Convention Center, this year’s event attracted approximately 2000 Travel Industry practitioners and Tourism students from universities across the country. They were all ears when the featured speakers showed their respective videos and power point presentations, and were enthusiastic about the new information they gathered from the event.
Just like the thousands in the audience, I, too, was intently listening to what the speakers shared with us. I always look forward to Tourism Fora such as this because I get to discover important information that we don’t usually get from traditional media.
Gabby Roxas, country marketing head of Google Philippines, who talked about “How Google Powers Up Tourism,” declared that the online travel market in the Asia Pacific region is growing faster than those of the US and Europe. However, the top five “google’d” cities in the world are a good mix from the different continents—Bangkok, London, Paris, Dubai and New York.
He also shared the following interesting trivia—the daily average number of times we use our smartphones in a day is 150, which made the audience conclude that, indeed, we are captives of this gadget. Flights to Hong Kong are the most “google’d” in the Philippines during Christmas, and Manila has overtaken Boracay as the most searched Philippine destination from abroad, while Cebu and Palawan are fast rising.
But the best “revelation” Roxas made that afternoon was about this new app that is now available to help one find things, anything, under a certain price. This certainly is a welcome development especially for men who detest the idea of having to go around several stores just to compare prices and be able to buy the cheapest one.
Chef Claude Tayag, artist, food writer and TV host, talked about culinary tourism, and made everybody hungry when he showed on screen close-up photos of the different delicacies of the various regions in the country, in line with his advocacy of promoting regional Philippine cuisine.
Tayag mentioned the recent visit of American chef, writer and TV host Anthony Bourdain who fell in love with our Pampango sisig and the Cebuano lechon declaring it as “the best pig ever!” Tayag advised our tourism decision-makers to make our regional food the central focus of tourism spending, just like what Singapore has done, where people from all over the world fly there just to partake of the country’s delicacies.
Tayag claims there is no such thing as a national Filipino cuisine, only regional. He says the overall Filipino taste is a symphony of subtle sour, salty, sweet, a bit bitter, mixed together in different degrees, resulting in what we call linamnam.
To prove his point, Tayag said all we have to do is mention green mango with bagoong, adobo, sinigang with patis, sisig with kalamansi, kare-kare with bagoong, lechon with liver sauce, or balut with spiced vinegar and sea salt. Any Filipino will find it music to his ears, as he starts to salivate.
Matthew Zatto, Southeast Asia manager of Trip Advisor, talked about “Tourism In The Age Of Technology.” When Stephen Kaufer founded the company in a Boston suburb in 2000, it was in response to a dearth of feedback about establishments in the accommodation industry. He just wanted an online venue for people to share their experiences in the use of these establishments.
Now, Trip Advisor has more than 500 million reviews from more than 390 million users, and such feedback can easily make or break a Tourism establishment. Travelers now check on these reviews when planning a trip; those 35 years old and above do it as early as three months before their trip, while millennials do it closer to their date of departure. Not surprising, the Americans write the most reviews on Philippine hotels.
What is noteworthy is Trip Advisor’s help for 800 Tourism Boards all over the world, including our own Department of Tourism, in branding and marketing, further increasing the company’s clout in the industry.
It’s also nice to know that, according to Zatto’s research, people are now veering away from giving material things as gifts. They now prefer to spend money on experiences, like what one gets when he travels, as a gift to loved ones, so that the memorable moments during the trip can last them a lifetime.
For those in the Travel Industry, Pinoy Chikka has been a source of new, useful information these past four years. No wonder people always look forward to it. I can hardly wait for next year’s edition.
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