Benito Bengzon, Jr.

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Bengzon, who leads the high-level delegation to India, said the travel industry players in India will put together and produce their tour packages for the April–June Indian travel season. “With more than a 50-percent increase in target arrivals from India, the mission will help ensure the Philippines will be in the Indian tour operators’ 2011 tour offerings.”

(DOT Asst. Sec. Benito Bengzon Jr.)

The DOT also said a tour group from India recently completed a four-day incentive tour in the Philippines. The group, composed of 224 key people of Nerolac Paints such as chemists, engineers and other paint-technology professionals, visited Manila, Tagaytay and Pagsanjan from December 2 to 5 for sightseeing, casino gaming, nightlife entertainment and shopping.

In a press statement, DOT Marketing Team India head Raymund Glen Agustin said this is the largest incentive group from India this year, made possible through Cutting Edge, an Indian-based tour operator in partnership with its local associate Shroff International Travel Care. Cutting Edge participated in the familiarization tour for the Indian travel agents in 2009 and has committed to send in 2011 incentive groups covering more than a thousand visitors on a staggered basis.

“The arrival of such a huge group is a direct result of our familiarization trip program for travel agents and media as one of our marketing and promotional efforts for the Indian market,” added Agustin.

Bengzon said since the department budget had come under scrutiny by legislators, the agency is now more focused in its marketing initiatives. “We’ve seen over the last few months that there is a larger stake for the private sector and it has seen the value of participating in trade fairs. We have to include the practicability of having dance groups [perform Filipino dances during the fairs to promote the country], but the centerpiece is the business-matching where Filipino travel agents meet with their counterparts.”

Asked about the initial branding effort that was recently scrapped, the DOT spokesman said there is “no deadline” to come up with a new brand or slogan. “The process will be more deliberate and more thorough. But we hope to have a corresponding TOR [terms of reference] by December. This [process] will take time.”