Wednesday, December 3, 2014

‘Hot Air Balloon Fest in Fort Magsaysay? It’s possible, says DOT exec

FORT MAGSAYSAY, Palayan City – The internationally acclaimed “Hot Air Balloon Festival,” which is traditionally being held in Pampanga may be moved  outside of that province and transferred to this sprawling military camp.

          This was the assessment of a top official of the Department of Tourism in Central Luzon who said that holding the festival requires vast tracts of lands.

          DOT Region  3 Ronaldo Tiotuico said Fort Magsaysay, with 44,000 hectares of available lands, can accommodate an event as huge as the “Hot air Balloon.”

          He said, however, that the event may not be moved to Aurora in eastern Central Luzon which, although a fast-emerging tourist destination, may not have available space.

          “When we talk of Aurora, I think it’s a no,” Tiotuico said, adding there is no firm proposal on the ground to transfer the event outside of Pampanga.

          The possibility of transferring the site of the balloon fest outside of the province was raised after the event was moved to Lupao, Pampanga from its traditional site at the Clark Freeport Zone during its holding last April 10-13.

          The new site in Barangay Prado Siongco, Lubao is located some 33 kilometers outside of Clark to Brgy. Prado Siongco, Lubao Pampanga. The reason for the tranfer was due to aviation traffic where 10 international and domestic airlines now operate and fly in and out of Clark from various destinations.

          The hot air balloon event, dubbed “Philippine International Balloon Festival (PIBF) 2014,” was organized by Pilipinas International Balloon Festival, Inc.

          Tiotuico admitted that moving the event to Fort Magsaysay would be treading uncharted territory . He said they previously tried to look for Zambales but it proved not an ideal location, unlike Clark where there are no obstructions.

          He said organizers, in considering a transfer, might look at spectator traffic. “The usual apprehension is that it might draw only few spectators,” he said, adding that the event, spanning at least three days, usually draws 100,000 spectators, 80 percent of whom come from Metro Manila.

          Tiotuico said air balloon fests are popular in Japan, Albuquerque in New Mexico, Putrajaya and Arizona. – Manny Galvez

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