National Association of Independent Travel Agencies (NAITAS)

To all the officers and members of the National Association of Independent Travel Agencies (NAITAS), led by its President Wanda Tulfo-Teo,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good afternoon to you all.

Thank you for inviting me to your general membership and business meeting this afternoon, where you have requested to hear some of my “insights on travel and tourism”.

Just to let everybody know, air travel is a commonplace occurrence, almost like standard operating procedure, for me. In fact, right now, I feel like I am in the company of peers and friends from the same industry. Ang feeling ko po kasi ay para bang ako rin ay bahagi na ng “airline and travel industry”, tulad ninyo.

Alam po ninyo na dahil sa aking trabaho, kailangan kong lumibot sa buong bansa para bisitahin ang ating mga kababayan sa kani-kanilang mga komunidad, upang kumustahin ang kanilang buhay at upang malaman kung ano ang kanilang mga suliranin na kailangang tugunan ng ating Kongreso sa pamamagitan ng batas. Para sa akin, napakahalaga po nito upang tayo ay maging mulat sa kalagayan at sa pulso ng ating kababayan.

Kung kaya naman po madalas akong lumilipad. Madalas akong nasa airport. Palipad-lipad, palipat-lipat ng mga paliparan sa Pilipinas. Hindi po ako nagbibiro kung sasabihin ko na halos araw-araw akong bumibiyahe sa eroplano. Lalong-lalo na kapag “toxic” pa ang aking schedule. Feeling ko ay sa airport na ako nakatira.

Having said all these, just imagine the extreme STRESS that I have to go through. The Philippines is home to one of the world’s worst airports—the NAIA, in particular—which was consistent topnotcher in the hall of shame for four consecutive years: Number 2 noong 2011; Number 1 noong 2012 at 2013; at Number 4 naman noong 2014. Buti na lang at nawala nang panandalian sa Top 10 nitong 2015. Pero ang takot ko ay baka bumalik na naman tayo sa listahan. Ito ay dahilan ng—alam n’yo na!—

Air traffic, flight delays, passenger delays and overbookings gone wrong. Idagdag pa natin ang kahiya-hiyang kalokohan ng “Tanim-bala” syndicate!

Sabi nga ng Chief ng Public Attorney’s Office noong nag-hearing kami sa Senado: “Nakakahiya tayo sa buong mundo!”

Naloko na! Nakakahiya talaga, lalo pa na kung ang ating binabandera sa buong mundo ay ang ating TURISMO. We heavily rely on our tourism industry, which accounts for almost 8% of our national GDP.

As an indispensable and influential group in our travel and tourism industry, NAITAS has a crucial role to play in the improvement of the state of our Philippine air transportation and our toursim industry. Safety and convenience of your customers should always be your number one priority. In turn, their satisfaction can create a positive feedback loop that will augur well for our tourism industry and also stem the tide of any feared deterioration that may be triggered by the unsavory and embarrassing incidents that continue to beset and threaten our beloved and most valuable sector—24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year in our airports.

As a unified body, strive for a conscious and collective effort to improve the overall business environment in the Philippine travel industry for better opportunities and better service to the consumers, circumscribed by the ideals of fair competition and ethical practices. May I inject that we have passed the Fair Competition Act (RA 10667) just recently, and an improved Air Passenger Bill of Rights are in the works in Congress.

Be a strong and influential voice in the industry and in government, especially in Congress and in the various agencies regulating your sector.

In the running of your organization, always strive for solidarity, aim for good governance, transparency and adherence to the democratic process, as well as for the fostering of fair competition between and among the members. Whatever past controversies that, for a time, may have caused dysfunction from within, the fact that you are all still here, and have surmounted all the challenges, is clear testament to your common commitment and your common recognition of the need for everybody to unite and organize as one.

Sabi ko nga po sa aking advertisement ngayon: “Hindi ako ang aking nakaraan”. Hindi tayo limitado sa kung ano ang mga naging pangyayari sa ating nakaraan—lalo na kung hindi maganda o mapait ang ating pinagdaanan. Ang mahalaga ay kung ano ang NGAYON, at kung ano ang magandang hangarin at paghahanda na ginagawa natin para sa ating HINAHARAP. ‘Ika nga po ng sikat na awitin ni Basil Valdez: “Ituring mo ang kahapon wari’y panaginip lang… Kayganda ng buhay… Bukas mo’y matibay… dahil ang sandigan ay ngayon.”

As a frequent flyer, I am completely aware of all the problems and imperfections of our air transport industry and its underlying infrastructure. Likewise, coming from the province of Ilocos Norte, which we have successfully developed into a major Philippine tourist destination, I am fully cognizant of the potential and the real impact of tourism to our national and local economy and to the very lives of our kababayans, both the visitors and the locals.

Makakaasa po kayo na ito ay atin pang isusulong at ipagpapatuloy sa mga darating na taon—siyempre po, sa pamamagitan ng inyong taos-puso at walang-sawang tiwala at suporta.

Together, let us do something about them and work out solutions for the improvement of our beloved industry.

Hanggang sa ating muling pagkikita, lalo na sa susunod na buwan kung saan tayo ay totodo na at mag-iikot na sa buong bansa. I pray for and look forward to safer and more punctual flights, lesser and more tolerable air traffic, as well as airport procedures conducted systematically, ethically and in good faith and in due respect of the constitutional rights of the public.

At higit sa lahat, siyempre, sana rin po ay palaging available at affordable ang mga airline tickets! Kapag ang aking tanggapan ay mauubusan, kami po ay kakatok sa inyong mga pinto at mga puso.

Sana po ay ako ay inyong samahan at ako ay inyong suportahan! ‘Ika nga po: SA TAMANG PANAHON! Kayo na po ang bahala sa akin!

Magkikita-kita po tayong muli! Mabuhay ang NAITAS at ang lahat ng mga indibidwal na miyembro nito!

Mabuhay ang ating turismo!

Maraming salamat po at pagpalain tayong lahat ng Maykapal!

Magandang hapon sa inyong lahat!

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