The Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) is an organization formed in 1979 from the union of the national associations of outbound travel agencies and inbound tour operators. Aside from fostering unity among those belonging to this sector of our tourism industry, it also looks after the welfare of the traveling public.
Counting, to date, more than 600 member enterprises from all over the country, the association works closely with our government agencies involved in the day-to-day operations of our tourism industry—the Department of Tourism, Department of Foreign Affairs, Tourism Promotions Board, Bureau of Immigration, Manila International Airport Authority, National Census and Statistics Office, as well as the embassies and consulates of other countries.
There are five membership categories of the association: Regular members are the travel agencies and tour operators; Allied members are the airlines, hotels, and resorts; Associate members are the Regular members’ branch offices in other parts of the country; the Affiliate members are the other tourism organizations; while the Affiliate International members are travel agencies and tour operators from other countries.
The governing body of this efficiently and strongly structured organization is its Board of Trustees, numbering 11, duly elected by the regular members. It has 10 working committees grouped under the President, Vice President for Outbound, and Vice President for Inbound. These committees assist in the formulation and implementation of the association’s policies, plans, and programs.
Even when travel was at a standstill starting March of last year, the PTAA machinery continued to grind. It conducted many consultative meetings among its members and whatever needed attention was brought up immediately to the Tourism Congress of the Philippines which, in turn, brought it up to the Department of Tourism and the other concerned government agencies. This was the reason why, just like the other tourism enterprises, PTAA’s members were easy beneficiaries of government’s financial support through the Bayanihan To Heal As One Act.
Last week, I was so surprised to receive an invitation to the association’s First General Membership Meeting for the year, coinciding with the induction of its newly elected Board of Trustees, in a person-to-person event at the Ballroom of Okada Manila. The invitation actually startled me because I thought it too risky and daring for any entity to hold such big event amidst this pandemic.
But I have always had high respect for how the association carries itself as a pillar and a moving force in our industry, so my initial surprise turned to trust and confidence that it is doing the right thing, albeit uniquely pioneering, in these times of enforced physical distancing.
Naturally, I made sure I didn’t miss the event.
My curiosity egged me on to see how things would be done in such big gathering, staged at this time when countless health and safety precautions have to be observed.
Just as I expected, PTAA breezed through it smoothly. Aside from stringent processes each guest had to go through at the entrance, the hotel’s ballroom which comfortably accommodates up to 1,500 guests, only had 180 physical attendees, as 160 other members attended online. Spaced two meters away from each other on all sides, each dining table, which was big enough for 10, was set up for only five guests, conforming to the required physical distancing. All throughout the event, reminders were announced for everyone to take off their face mask and shield only when partaking of the meal.
Senator Richard Gordon inducted virtually the newly elected Board of Trustees, led by its charming and captivating president Michelle Taylan of Klik ‘N Fly Travel and Tours, and urged the association to continue finding ways to help keep our tourism industry’s flame burning. He expressed his confidence that PTAA can still discover many new beautiful destinations in our country which it can easily promote to our countrymen. These new discoveries would whet the appetite for domestic tourism, which is how countries all over the world plan to spark the “rebirth” of the industry.
The other officers are: VP for Outbound Julita Maballo of New Era Travel and Tours; VP for Inbound Merlita Nario of Lakbay Kabayan Tours and Travel Services; Treasurer Merlita Teng of BNG Travel and Tours Services; Assistant Treasurer Ferdinand Ocampo of Allpoints Travel Services; Secretary General Patria Chiong of West Gate Travel and Tours; Assistant Secretary General Cynthia Lirio of MK Ching Travel and Tours; PRO Belen Guzman of Ecozone Travel and Tours; Auditor Frederick Cuatico of Great Sights Travel and Tours; and Trustees Imelda Gonzales of Express City Tours Travel Services, Evangeline Manotok of Royal Travels, Tito Noel Mora of Swift Travel and Tours, Rosellen Levy Oliveros of Levy Travel and Tours, and Matt Poonin of Travelite Travel and Tours.
Looking back through the years at how successful the association has been in all its endeavors, including its long-running (28 years) and highly popular TravelTour Expo, I am confident that no pandemic nor any other catastrophe can ever put a halt to PTAA’s continuously running success-oriented engine.
Abraham Lincoln must have foretold the association’s existence when he said, “If everyone is moving forward, then success takes care of itself.” As a tourism industry veteran helping to ignite our industry’s renaissance, I’m certainly glad the PTAA is in our camp.
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