The Philippine Travel Agencies Association, or PTAA, is the biggest organization of tourism-related establishments in the country. It now counts 582 members, a big leap from the little-over-a-hundred members it had three decades ago. It is now a potent factor in the country’s Tourism Industry, as it works hand in hand with our Department of Tourism in all of the government agency’s promotional efforts.
Twenty-three years ago, PTAA put up an event to showcase the products of its members to the metro’s holiday-seekers. That was the Travel Tour Expo (TTE), which first opened at the exhibition halls of SM Megamall, the biggest venue for such events at the time. When the place became too small because of the continuously increasing number of exhibitors, TTE moved to the World Trade Center. But when the bigger and the more attractive SMX at the Mall of Asia opened its doors, it became the yearly venue for TTE.
The Travel Tour Expo is a 3-day activity that always begins on a Friday and ends on Sunday. It has evolved into a much-awaited annual industry event covering all segments of the travel business, making it the biggest event for the country’s travel and tourism industry. At this year’s edition, more than 100,000 visitors came to the venue to check out the more than 1,000 booth spaces occupied by over 300 tourism-related establishments.
It used to be that potential travelers looking for new destinations, and students of Tourism and Hospitality Management schools, would be the dominant visitors to the event. But these days, bargain hunters flock to the venue and take up every single space of the humongous hall, as they queue up for the super-discounted air or cruise tickets, or extremely discounted hotel and resort packages to different destinations in the country and the world. These bargains are made available to the public only for the duration of the TTE.
You can tell when the Travel Tour Expo is being held at the SMX because you’ll see extremely long queues crisscrossing its cavernous halls extending all the way outside the building. In fact, even if doors of SMX Mall of Asia open at 8:00 a.m., people would already be queuing outside as early as 5:00 a.m. because they want to be sure that the best deals – the super-discounted air fares, the very inexpensive hotel and resort packages, etc. – are still available for them.
Since TTE is held every February, people find it the perfect time to plan their summer vacations or their trips for the rest of the year. Many people in the metro and in the neighboring provinces have now made the Travel Tour Expo a necessity, an integral part of their vacation planning. Some even work their vacation plans around what bargains they can get from the Expo, which I must say, is a clever way to enjoy life… at rates that are next-to-nothing!
I always make it a point to visit the TTE every year, just to see what “good deals” are being offered, and to say HELLO! to a lot of my travel industry friends. It pleases me to see that, every year, patronage to the event continues to increase. I find it more and more difficult to “window shop” through the many booths because the aisles are now always clogged with eager bargain-hunters. I used to be able to cover all the booths in less than an hour, but these past couple of years, it has taken me almost two hours to check out the entire place.
Of course, it didn’t help that since three years ago, the organizers have decided to stage the event on two floors of SMX. Because of the sheer number of customers that queue up for their booth throughout the day, they had to put Philippine Airlines on the second floor, far away from the Cebu Pacific booth which also attracts just as many patrons, and the Air Asia booth which also has its own legion of followers.
As a disciple of our country’s Tourism industry, I can’t help but gloat over TTE’s success through the years, a clear indication that our industry is indeed booming, and that the future of those who have established their careers in the industry is certainly bright.
I hope you have availed of some of the many Summer Travel Bargains offered at TTE. If not, watch out for next year’s edition. I’m sure they will even offer much more to choose from… at unbelievably low prices!
YOUR MONDAY CHUCKLE:
BOSS TO HIS FRIEND: Times have really changed. My secretary resigned yesterday.
BOSS: She caught me having coffee with my wife!
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