Siargao on Cebu aviation firm’s tour list

A Cebu-based aviation company has partnered with the Department of Tourism to provide aerial tours for those who want an alternative way of exploring Siargao island in the Caraga region.

Kenneth Madrid, executive vice president for sales and marketing of Aviatour, said the partnership is in line with the department's thrust to push adventure tourism in the region.

"We hope to see more tie-ups with other DOT regional offices after this partnership," Madrid told Cebu Daily News.

Tourism secretary Joseph "Ace" Durano said this development opens up Siargao and Caraga to more visitors.

"I have seen the tourism attractions of the area. Ang kuwang (What is lacking) is accessibility. The operation of Aviatour will provide the necessary access to the area and open up tourism traffic," said Durano.

Madrid said the DOT has coordinated with tour operators to sell the package.

He said tour packages to Siargao started last May 15. Introductory prices of flight tour is until September 15 for P3,750 to P7,500 per person for 30-minute to two-hour tour.

Package A gives tourists bird's eyeview of Butuan province and marshland, Lake Mainit and Sohoton Cove, while package B includes Surigao province, Lake Mainit and Sohoton Cove. Package C, on the other hand, includes Surigao and Lake Mainit.

The aerial tour started in 2000 catering to Korean honeymooners, said marketing officer Margaret Rose Veniegas.

Veniegas said demand for the flight tours increased with international tourists such as Russians, Japanese and Belgians comprise 80 percent of the market. About 20 percent are local tourists.

The Caraga region packages are the latest addition in the list of flight tours, which include Bohol, Mactan and neighboring islands of Pandanon, Nalusuan and Olango among others.

He said the company also offers "tailor-fit" tours according to the request of clients.

With the election year coming, Aviatour is expected to host several politicians and celebritiies who normally get services of the company for chartered flights.

Meanwhile, the company's flight school continues to get a steady flow of students from different countries such as Pakistan and other Arabian countries, said president and chief operating officer Jemar Bahinting

Bahinting said the quality of theory and practical training of the school gives them a competitive edge over other flight schools in the country.

There remains low awareness among Filipinos on the prospects of pursuing a career as a pilot, Bahinting said finding jobs for these graduates is another challenge. (Cebu Daily News)

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