Spain forms consortium to woo Philippine pilgrimage tourists

THE Tourist Office of Spain is once again pushing the religious pilgrimage tour programme, Camino de Santiago, to Philippine travellers this year and has formed a local consortium to promote the product to the Philippine travel trade.

The consortium comprises five members: Rajah Travel Corp, Executive Resources, Mondial Tours & Travel, Caravan Travel – all based in Manila – as well as Destination Specialists Cebu.

The Tourist Office first promoted the programme in the Philippines in 2010 as the third most-important religious destination for Christians after the Holy Land and the Vatican.

The programme will introduce key stretches of the traditional route, which can be accessed from different points in Europe, but usually from the French Pyrenees mountains up to the heritage town of Santiago de Compostela, northern Galicia, where the Cathedral of St James is located.

Philippine travel companies have made pilgrimage tours, especially those to the Holy Land and Europe, their bread-and-butter business.

“If there’s a piece of business that never goes away year after year, it’s that,” says Nette Oseo, product specialist at Rajah Travel Corp.

Under this programme, the Tourist Office offers 12-night tours with guided walking and non-walking options for the route starting from Madrid, with rates valid till May 2014.

Tony Morales, sales manager at Caravan Travel and Tours, said sales of this tour would depend on the season and price. The company usually bids for such religious programmes for school field trips and parish community groups, rather than for FITs.

Juan Javier Berenguer-Testa, president of Mondial Tours and Travel, said that the product would appeal to visitors who might want to spend up to a month in Spain, adding: “It will appeal to young people or those ‘pushed’ to go into it with a group of friends, as well as people with a spiritual outlook.”

The Tourist Office also intends to promote the tour to the young. “In Spain, young students take on the route using a skateboard or bike during summer,” explained Vien Cortes, its market analyst for South-east Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

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