MANILA, Philippines–A VIP tour without the VIP cost.
This is the promise of a new campaign of the Department of Tourism (DOT) called “Islands Philippines Fun Caravans,” which was launched this year to test its sustainability as a practical and “real immersion” in the country’s tourist hubs.
The campaign will be implemented by the DOT working closely with tour operators.
For as little as P13,000, a tourist could join one of eight motor caravans and enjoy VIP treatment: vehicles with security escorts and an emergency medical team on standby, as well as a choice of activities and accommodations at multiple provincial destinations.
Philippine Tour Operators Association (Philtoa) president Cesar Cruz said each caravan, which could last from three to seven days, is scheduled for different months throughout the year and provides flexibility to participants.
“The Islands Philippines Fun Caravans will accommodate both foreign and local tourists who may choose to bring their own vehicles or avail of a caravan vehicle only if the destinations can be accessed via land,” he said.
Cruz said every participant will be given a special passport to be stamped by the mayor of a city or municipality that is part of the tour.
“That stamp is a guarantee of the town or city mayor’s protection,” Cruz said.
According to the Philtoa president, a manageable caravan size would be at most 90 people and 25 vehicles. “But the longer the convoy, the more fun it is,” he said.
Escorting the caravans will be policemen on motorcycles and patrol cars and an ambulance.
Should the 2015 test run succeed, Cruz said a caravan may be scheduled three times annually beginning next year and more city, municipal, provincial and regional destinations will be included.
“We are targeting at least 10 caravan destinations, including Siargao Island, Davao and Eastern Visayas,” he said.
The caravans, launched in September last year, are currently made up of five major and three minor packages with multiple destinations.
Among the major caravans was last month’s “Cordillera Heritage Warrior” caravan, which traveled through San Jose in Nueva Ecija; Bayombong town in Nueva Vizcaya; Kiangan, Lagawe and Banaue in Ifugao; Bontoc, Sagada, Mt. Data and La Trinida in Mt. Province and Baguio City.
Coming up in April is the “Southern Luzon Kulinarya” caravan which includes the towns of Kawit, Tanza and Indang in Cavite; Tagaytay City; Agoncillo, Taal, Talisay and San Juan towns in Batangas; the municipalities of San Pablo, Nagcarlan, Liliw and Majayjay in Laguna; and Lucban town in Quezon.
In August, the “Visayan Charms” will cover Bohol, Cebu and Boracay while the “Bicol Express,” set for October, will include Naga, Legazpi, Sorsogon and Misibis.