By JULLIE Y. DAZA
Fly not to escape the 2019 coronavirus, but fly on the wings of domestic tourism. DOT Secretary Berna Puyat finds hope in local tours making up for the slack in in-bound tourism.
Ms. Puyat has senior-itas and senior-itos to bank on to boost the revenues of airlines, hotels, restaurants, department stores. As retirees enjoying their sunset years, they have disposable income to spend on little luxuries like traveling around our islands; no need to go abroad. As a friend puts it, why would sexagenarians, septuagenarians, octogenarians want to spend 12 hours cramped and cranky in an airplane?
“No more long hauls for me,” he said, “I’ve done my share of North America and Europe, even South Africa.” Indeed, it’s time for him and others like him to make up for lost time by touring as many of our beautiful places as they can before traveling becomes a drag on bones and muscles. With their discount cards, seniors have no excuse not to visit the islands of their dreams, beginning with Batanes, even if the governor, according to Secretary Puyat, does not encourage cheap tourism or black tourism – what the Gov calls overtourism – that could spoil the raw and rugged, pristine beauty of their homeland. I would urge those who have not visited Batanes to go take a look, though. Chill. Batanes is another country in another century, a “foreign” place to feed the imagination and your camera. It’s where to feast on seafood, to refresh your 2020 vision with stunning views that are neither art nor artifice. Oh, and Batanes does not operate on high decibels of noises, loud voices, the cacophony of people who are always griping, bellyaching, finding fault.
DOT could promote an aggressive campaign to sell our destinations at drastically reduced prices to entice budget-conscious seniors who are waiting for their children to buy their tickets. A plane ticket to Batanes is quite expensive, even at discounted rates, but generally the silver market is more willing to pay for their leisure and recreation. Some cheapskate might say that their VAT-less privileges are already a promo in itself. To them I say, go fly a kite because you don’t know how to cash in on an adversity that has just created an opportunity for you.