Ken Hupanda at the Kalayaan booth at 2023 TTE (Photo by Robert Alfiler)

The biggest Philippine travel expo, the Travel Tour Expo (TTE) 2024, opened its doors to the public on Friday, offering a wide range of travel offers, including discounts on tours to both popular and lesser-known places across the country.

The promotional tours to the Spratlys, targeted at leisure travelers, are a prominent component of this three-day event.

The Spratly tours, which started in March 2023 with journalists as the first guests, have since drawn domestic and international tourists, especially those interested in sport fishing and scuba diving, according to Ken Hupanda, the tourism officer for Kalayaan municipality and exhibitor at the expo.

By saying, "We've already welcomed international visitors," Hupanda emphasized the trips' success. Near Palawan's largest island, Pag-asa, one group of local tourists set a new record for fishing with a 74-kilogram tuna.

Roughly 80 people have taken advantage of these tours since they began in March, with prices ranging from PHP40,500 to PHP150,000.

With its liveaboard accommodations, Pag-asa Island lodging, and a weeklong tour of Pag-asa, Lawak, Patag, and Likas Islands in the West Philippine Sea, the Kalayaan Fish and Dive Expedition stands out as the most premium package.

More than 50% of the available spots on four leisure trips to the Spratlys have already been filled for 2024.

Travel enthusiasts check out deals at the 2024 TTE (Photo by Robert Alfiler)

With over 200 exhibitors and an anticipated 100,000 attendees, the Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) TTE offers substantial savings on overseas vacation packages and visa services.

Travel companies, airlines, hotels, cruise lines, and more will be present at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay from February 2 to 4, during the exhibition.

Evangeline Tankiang-Manotok, president of the Philippine Travel Association (PTAA), commented on the spike in interest in travel after the pandemic, saying that people want to make up for lost time and are more aware of how short life is.

At the opening, Christina Frasco, the secretary of tourism, reaffirmed the department's aim to attract more than 7 million visitors by the end of 2024 and expressed her support for PTAA's initiatives to reinvigorate national tourism.

"The responsibility to sustain tourism growth lies with us, and we aim to guide the industry towards new opportunities, making 2023 a year of innovation and setting high hopes for 2024 to exceed our achievements," according to her.