Philippine Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon Teo has assured that the travel agency industry will continue to be a vital component of the country’s tourism sector.
Teo made the commitment as she met with members of the Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) in Mandaluyong City on Tuesday.
She said the role of travel agencies is important, citing the “personalized service” they provide to travelers.
“Travel agencies play a big role. They are very relevant,” said Teo, who used to own a travel agency.
She explained that tapping the services of travel agencies is more convenient to travelers since they are guided in everything, including hotel bookings, plane tickets and travel itinerary.
The tourism chief noted the disadvantage of online booking services, such as the possibility of travelers getting lost and wasting their money.
She said that in online booking, no assistance can be expected when travelers get lost in a destination or if they experience misconnected flights.
For her part, PTAA president Maria Michelle Reyes-Victoria said their members are also evolving their businesses to fit the ever-changing needs of travelers.
“Travel agencies are starting to see the advantage of incorporating new technology and the use of social media in their operations. They still offer personalized service but are now more adept in using the new tools available to them,” she said.
According to Victoria, a lot of travel agencies already have applications that can be downloaded on smartphones where their services are made available 24/7.
Meanwhile, Senator Richard Gordon, who was also present at the event, also gave his full support to travel agencies in the country.
The former tourism chief said that despite the numerous options for do-it-yourself travels that can be booked online, travel agencies still provide the wider set of packages both for leisure and business travel.
He urged travel agencies to help push for a tourism agenda that will have a trickle-down effect on communities across the country.
“They must not be spectators. They have to be part and parcel of the mission of creating packages, creating jobs, lobbying for better airports and better infrastructure,” the senator said.
Gordon also mentioned the growing demand for domestic tourism, urging the tourism sector to maximize potential markets such as cultural and historical tourism.
“Tourism is a story. It is not just a show of pictures,” he said.
He added that the DOT should also push for infrastructure development and improving the country’s airports and seaports to further boost tourism arrivals. (PNA) CVL/JDB