Pangasinan Engages in Travel Exchange with National Capital Region

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan—A component of the recently concluded North Luzon Travel Fair held at Clark, Pampanga last November 18 to November 20 was a travel exchange between Department of Tourism (DOT) accredited tour operators and travel agencies of Pangasinan and those of the National Capital Region (NCR) from November 21 to 24, 2022.

TravEx delegates during their tour of the Hundred Islands National Park in Alaminos City, Pangasinan

The travel exchange saw representatives from the DOT Region 1, DOT NCR, and tour operators and travel agencies from their respective regions visit select tourism destinations in Pangasinan. With the assistance of the Provincial Tourism and Cultural Affairs Office (PTCAO), the TravEx participants were able to experience various tourism activities as well as taste delicacies unique to the destinations. Their itinerary included a visit to Casa Amarillo (Rosales), Balungao Hilltop Adventure (Balungao), Sts. Paul and Peter Parish Church and Bella’s Puto Factory (Calasiao), Ciudad Elmina (Dagupan City), Our Farm Republic (Mangatarem), and Bued Mangrove Farm and Hundred Islands National Park (Alaminos City).

A business-to-business (B2B) meeting was also held at the Sison Auditorium last November 22, 2022 after the participants were given a heritage tour around the Capitol Complex and at the Casa Real. This became an avenue for Pangasinan’s tour operators and travel agencies to finally convene especially amidst the busy year-end season. Pangasinan’s participants were optimistic that this meeting would highlight Pangasinan and its many tourism products aside from famous destinations like the Hundred Islands National Park in Alaminos City and attractions in Bolinao.

“There are a lot of places, destinations na kailangan natin ibenta, ipakilala sa iba para mas ma-appreciate nila ang Pangasinan. And I am happy kasi they are looking into eastern [Pangasinan] which is ‘yon ‘yong medyo hindi pa na-ouout sa market–‘yong ganda ng eastern, ‘yong pagiging unique ng central at pagiging icon ng ating western (There are a lot of places, destinations that we have to sell, to introduce to others so Pangasinan will be better appreciated. And I am happy because they are looking into eastern Pangasinan which is a part that hasn’t been really out in the market yet–the beauty of the eastern, the uniqueness of the central, and the western as an icon),” Ms. Vanessa Fajardo, founder and executive manager of Aerosky International Travel & Tours Agency in Dagupan City, shared before the meeting started. Ms. Fajardo likewise expressed her optimism that the B2B meeting would create more connections and partnerships among Pangasinan and NCR tour operators and travel agencies, further explaining that safe and responsible travels are anchored in the presence of legitimate and DOT-accredited tour operators and travel agencies.

Iwasan natin ‘yong DIY [tours]… ang destination, it’s not about nag-papicture ka… It’s also to learn, to know (Let’s avoid DIY tours… a destination, it’s not about you took a picture there… It’s also to learn, to know),” quipped Ms. Fajardo when asked about what message she would like to convey to tourists. She emphasized the importance of tourists immersing themselves in the culture of the places they visit and taking with them bits of information of the places that will remain with them even after the trip. “You should know and you should love ‘yong pupuntahan mo (You should know and you should love the place you’re going to).” Being part of the industry for years, Ms. Fajardo highlighted how legitimate tour operators and travel agencies are able to provide this worthwhile experience, being in constant communication with tour guides and whatnot, which is likewise an important link within the tourism industry and a source of livelihood for local communities.

Representing Governor Ramon V. Guico III, Executive Assistant III Atty. Korina Cueva formally welcomed the guests and expressed the Provincial Government’s gratitude to all participants for the arrangement of the Travel Exchange. Provincial Tourism and Cultural Affairs Officer Maria Luisa Amor-Elduayan was also present at the event to discuss an overview of Pangasinan’s tourism industry, tourism products, and current and future tourism, culture, and arts projects.

Provincial Tourism and Cultural Affairs Officer Maria Luisa Amor-Elduayan during her presentation of Pangasinan’s tourism industry

A presentation of NCR’s tourism industry and tourism products was also discussed by representatives from the DOT-NCR while the B2B meeting proper followed, facilitated by Mr. Ricky Esguerra, seasoned tour operator and tour guide from the Esgala Travel and Tours agency. A total of 13 tour operators and travel agencies from NCR were able to participate in the event. Mr. Hermie Delatado of Dakay’s Travel and Tours expressed his excitement upon learning of Pangasinan’s various tourism offers, sharing that prior the TravEx, he was only aware of the grand basilica in Manaoag and the Hundred Islands National Park in Alaminos City.

“I hope magkaroon ako ng maraming bookings going here [in Pangasinan]… That I may have new offerings for my clients (I hope I get many bookings going here [in Pangasinan]… That I may have new offerings for my clients),” Mr. Delatado added on a positive note.

Tour operators and travel agency owners of Pangasinan and NCR discussing during the B2B meeting proper

Senior Tourism Operations Officer Ms. Gay Gapas, head of DOT-R1’s Marketing and Promotions Division, represented Regional Director Joseph Francisco “Jeff” Ortega and had been accompanying the TravEx teams since their departure from the North Luzon Travel Fair in Clark City, Pampanga last November 20, 2022. According to Ms. Gapas, Pangasinan tour operators and travel agencies readily promoted the tourism products that the DOT-R1 had been developing with Pangasinan’s tourism stakeholders since 2020, amidst the pandemic. The success of the TravEx gave Ms. Gapas and her team confidence in expecting more foot traffic to Pangasinan and to Region 1, in general.

“We are open always for B2B meetings. It will definitely help in the recovery of the tourism industry,” Ms. Gapas said, later citing the phenomenon that is “revenge travel” now that travel restrictions have lessened and tourists are rearing to make up for loss time since the onset of the pandemic. “And considering our proximity, our very nice road network, we really expect more tourists to come.”

Local statistics show that one of Pangasinan’s most frequent visitors and tourists come from NCR, the province being readily accessible due in part to the construction of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX).

/MCDG & SEAR

Photos: KSS & KFC

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