DOT to promote 'train experience' tour

By Mayen Jaymalin – To give foreign and local tourists a different feel of the country’s travel destinations, the local tourism industry will soon promote a so-called “train experience” tour.

Robert Joseph, Tourism Educators and Movers (TEAM) Philippines chairman, said they would be coming out with a tourism package that includes travel using the newly rehabilitated Bicol Express.

“Having the Bicol Express as a complementary mode to visit sites in the south would be a new experience for travelers and tourists,” Joseph said.

He said the return of the Bicol Express is a welcome development for the country’s tourism industry since it gives foreign and domestic travelers an alternative means to reach destinations in the Bicol region.

Attractions like Donsol whale watching, non-stop trips going to the Camsur Watersports Complex and sites near Mayon Volcano in Albay will be given a new perspective as tourists will be riding on world-class sleeper coaches now being offered by the Philippine National Railways (PNR), Joseph explained.

He noted that top destinations in the US, Europe and other Asian countries have first-class train services to encourage local and foreign tourists to explore the wonders of their country.

“I think it’s about time that we rehabilitate and resume operations of the railway in the country,” Joseph said.

Despite delays and other minor hitches, the Bicol Express had a soft opening last week. The Bicol Express used to be a popular mode of transport to the south, but operations were halted for almost six years.

Joseph said the PNR is determined to revive the Manila-Naga City route.

“I believe that PNR’s master plan for the south is to rehabilitate the Legazpi route and build additional tracks connecting it to the province of Sorsogon,” he added.

Joseph said they would promote the train experience through the League of Tourism Students of the Philippines, SKAL International, Rotary Tourism Movement, non-IATA local agencies nationwide, Travel Cooperative of the Philippines, Fair Trade Alliance, Federation of Philippine Industries, 777 and 888 news forums, and the consular and diplomatic community.

DOT completes Homecoming Roadshow

The Department of Tourism (DOT) has concluded its latest promotional program – the Pinoy Homecoming Roadshow, which encourages Filipino communities in six cities in the US and Canada to come home and visit the Philippines.

The roadshow, which began on June 21 in Chicago, also visited the cities of New York, Toronto, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, before finally concluding with a marketing presentation to an audience of some 500 enthusiastic Filipino-Americans in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The roadshow was implemented in line with Presidential Proclamation 181 that declares the years 2011 to 2016 as Pinoy Homecoming Years.

As the overseas Filipino community continues to expand worldwide, the government extends its support to the country’s modern-day heroes. Through the Balikbayan program, overseas Filipinos are given special privileges and benefits in recognition of their contributions to the growth of the economy in terms of foreign exchange inflow and the revenues they generate.

The proclamation also aims to boost tourist arrivals in the Philippines by encouraging overseas Filipino communities to visit the country, reunite with their families and enjoy their homeland any time between 2011 and 2016.

The roadshow has been warmly received by the leaders of overseas Filipino communities in all areas visited. They have all committed to fully support the program by disseminating the message to their respective constituencies. All presentations have been overwhelmingly attended, and venues filled to capacity.

To show their appreciation, community leaders have initiated a manifesto for the President lauding the DOT for spearheading a campaign that not only benefits the Philippine economy but gives importance to overseas Filipinos through a program that seeks to further improve the benefits and privileges being provided to them when they return to the Philippines.

Lim said a substantial increase in tourism arrivals to the Philippines in the next five years is expected with the country’s progress more evidently seen.

“More developments such as hotels and resorts are happening in tourist spots all over the country, the roads are being improved and being built where there is none, and aviation has favored more travelers with affordable fares and more flights to choose from. We would like to support the President in his vision to prioritize our Filipino kababayans abroad upon their return and enjoy their homeland for visits. Thus, we will actively promote this proclamation,” he said.

The campaign aims to drive up tourism and appreciation for the country as well as to encourage expansion and investments and create opportunities for more Filipinos both locally and abroad.

The campaign targets an increase of 25 percent in visitor arrivals from North America for 2011 over the 2010 figures.

The campaign is spearheaded by the DOT in partnership with Globe Telecom and Duty Free Philippines Corp., in cooperation with Western Union, Philippine Airlines and the over 500 merchant-partners composed of hotels, resorts, restaurants, medical and insurance institutions nationwide.

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