By Mike Baños
First Business-to-Business Event
Travel and tourism stakeholders from several regions from Mindanao and the Visayas are converging in Cagayan de Oro City today, February 21, and tomorrow, February 22, for a travel dialogue and business session dubbed TravelX.
Hosted by the Department of Tourism Region 10 office and organized by tourism consultants and event management company, Selrahco, the two-day event will bring in some 100 representatives from the hotel and resort sectors, local tourism offices, event organizers, tour operators, large and medium-sized corporations and social and civic clubs.
Cagayan de Oro was selected to host TravelX – The B2B Event after it launched direct flight links late last year with several cities and top tourist destinations such as Boracay, Clark, Bacolod, Dumaguete, Tagbilaran, Zamboanga, and 10 other points across the archipelago.
“We are inviting travel agents, tour operators, organizations, associations, and event and meeting organizers from Cagayan de Oro and Northern Mindanao who plan to organize tours or conferences in places like Cebu, Davao, Dumaguete, Zamboanga, Bohol, and Boracay to attend the one day business session on February 22,” said Charles Lim, Selrahco President.
Lim said TravelX will provide the perfect networking platform for travel stakeholders and promote increased awareness about tourist attractions of the featured destinations with direct business-to-business contacts and transactions between tourism and travel stakeholders from the various destinations.
Some of the prestigious establishments already signed up for TravelX are Radissons Blu, Park Inn, Bellevue Resort, Be Resort, Almont Resort, Savoy Hotel, Belmont Hotel, Marco Polo, Almont Hotel, San Remegio Beach Club, Quest Hotel, Dakak Resort and Properties, Be Resorts, Bohol Beach Club, Bai Hotel and Cagayan de Oro-based hotels and attractions like Limketkai Luxe Hotel, Seven Seas Waterpark and Resort, and Seda Centrio.
Other entities participating include the Iloilo Provincial Tourism Office, Lite Shipping, Cebu Pacific Air, Asiatic Adventure Tours, Enchanted Kingdom, itravel tourist lane, 4 bros and i events and travel, and GetGo.
Registration is open on a first come first served basis to corporate clients. travel agents, civic clubs, and accredited event organizers from Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental for free. Interested parties can call Apollo Santos at +639273173737 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TravelX -The B2B Event is supported by the Department of Tourism regional offices of regions 7, 9, 11 and 10 with Limketkai Luxe Hotel and Cebu Pacific as main sponsors, and Quest Hotel and Seven Seas Waterpark and Resort as featured event sponsors. Media partners are Business Week Mindanao, CDO Bloggers, KBP Cagayan de Oro Chapter, and CDODev.com.
To properly evaluate TravelX in its right context, a look back at recent developments at the Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental is in order.
Last October 20, 2017, top executives of the country’s leading airline and chief executives of the government from the national, regional and local levels launched Laguindingan Airport (IATA: CGY) as the 7th Regional Hub of Cebu Pacific Air (PSE: CEB).
This was followed barely a month later by the Philippine Airlines (PAL) launch of direct flights from CGY to Clark Freeport, bringing to ten the destinations served with direct flights from Laguindingan.
Cebu Pacific and its affiliate Cebgo have nine direct connections to and from Cagayan. Manila, Bacolod, Davao, Zamboanga, Cebu, Iloilo, Tagbilaran, Caticlan, and Dumaguete; while PAL serves Clark (Angeles), Cebu, Davao, and Manila.
“Laguindingan is the gateway to Northern Mindanao. When we started in 1996, actually Cagayan de Oro was our 4th destination, and today it’s still our 4th largest destination,” said Lance Gokongwei, CEB President and Chief Executive Officer during the Oct. 20 launch. “We now have 146 weekly flights out of Laguindingan to nine destinations in the Philippines and we want to promote tourism and business in a region that deserves more attention and access.”
“That’s our mission, to create access for all Filipinos not only to Metro Manila but to all other cities. With the help of Cebu Pacific, many destinations are being discovered and we hope such destinations in Northern Mindanao will be discovered and we’ll do our own little part of make that possible,” he added.
In for the Long Term
“It’s actually quite timely if we need to develop the hub and location-wise, geographically it’s also a good central location to connect to the other islands in the Visayas and Mindanao,” said Candice Iyog, CEB Vice President, Marketing and Distribution, on the sidelines of the event.
“When we enter a market, the intention is always to do long-term. Because the time, the effort to actually set up a hub operationally, resource-wise, is the same whether it’s a short-term or a long-term. So when we come into a market, it’s really with the full intention of developing it and growing it,” she added.
“We always view the government as our partners. We work closely with the Dept. of Transportation (DOTr) and its associate agencies, the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) in making sure that all processes and infrastructure are in place, and we work closely with the Department of Tourism (DOT) in promoting destinations in our place,” Gokongwei noted.
“We are also very supportive of the government’s moves to really Build, Build, Build … because that’s what we really need, more infrastructure if the aviation industry’s gonna grow, certainly we need more and better airports,” he added.
Engr. Jose G. Budiongan, airport/area manager for CAAP Area X, said Laguindingan airport is now gearing up for the increased passenger traffic by opening another gate in addition to the existing two. An additional passenger lounge capable of seating 100 additional departing passengers is also in the works.
Asked about the proximity of international flights landing in Laguindingan Airport, Gokongwei replied: “I think international flights are something we should look at in the next two years because generally if a hub already has many domestic connections, that means there’s enough support as possibly an international destination, and that’s something we’ll seriously consider.”
“We are considering opening flights to the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-Eaga) maybe in the future, as preparations improve for airports and all that, we will probably start flights of our international airports from Davao and Cagayan de Oro and the like from Mindanao to the Indonesian islands, like Sandakan, like Malaysia,” he added.
Cebu Pacific Mission
In his brief talk during the launching program, Gokongwei disclosed how a letter addressed to him epitomized the mission of Cebu Pacific to serve “EveryJuan,” the airline’s tagline.
“With this as a hub, a tourist from Boracay can now easily explore this region’s diverse natural attractions. Small businesses can flourish with additional cargo options, and seat sales enable families and couples to visit their loved ones more,” Gokongwei noted.
“What was originally the fourth destination of Cebu Pacific in 1996 is now a hub. It follows the path of Manila, Cebu, Iloilo, Davao, also as hubs,” he explained. “Today is a testament to our long-standing commitment to contribute to nation-building and make air travel more accessible to all Filipinos. We look forward to the effect our low fares and direct flights will have on Northern Mindanao.”