TRAVEL GROUP MAKES BOLD MOVE: Shifts focus to cushion impact of global crisis

By CHRISTIAN WAKEFIELD, Reporter

INSTEAD of succumbing to the effects of the global financial crisis, travel operators in the country are shifting their focus to keep their existence in the rather competitive tourism industry.

Members of the National Association of Independent Travel Agencies (Naitas), an organization of more than 1,200 travel agencies around the country, are now capitalizing on the incentives and meetings market as the crisis kept foreign travelers from going to the Philippines.

“We have to change our focus to survive as the world feels the effect of the financial crisis,” said Naitas Chairman Emeritus Robert Lim Joseph, who is also the honorary consul to the Republic of Latvia.

With the summer season, Joseph said travel agencies are focusing on the domestic market, as students travel in groups on educational tour and companies giving travel incentives to employees. Naitas members are also promoting local destinations, he said.

While the tourism industry continues to registered positive growth despite the crisis, Joseph said travel operators should not be lenient and must always map out marketing strategies to keep their businesses afloat.

Earlier, Tourism Secretary Ace Durano said the tourism industry continues to provide employment to Filipinos with at least four million Filipinos are now working in the industry.

“While other industries are laying off workers, the tourism industry continues to expand, opening up more opportunities to skilled Filipinos,” said Durano.

Durano said the tourism industry will continue to expand in the next five years as 8,000 more hotel rooms are expected to open up in the country, paving way for more job openings.

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