MANILA — The Philippines is launching the 2020 Philippine Shopping Festival starting March 1, a nationwide sale that seeks to rival Singapore’s great sale and Hong Kong’s summer sale.

“It’s not hard to see that elevating the shopping experience will go a long way to enhance the attractiveness of our tourist destinations all over the Philippines, whether it is our big cities or in our beautiful provinces,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said on Wednesday in Makati City.

The nationwide sale will run from March 1 to 31 through participating malls such as Araneta Group, Ayala Land Malls Inc., Duty Free Philippine Corporation, Filinvest Land Inc., Greenfield Development Corporation, Vista Malls, Megaworld Corporation, Ortigas Land, Power Plant Mall, Robinsons Land Corporation, Rustan Commercial Corporation, Shangri-La Plaza Corporation, SM Supermalls, and Stores Specialists Inc.

“We’ve recognized this in the National Tourism Development Plan of 2016-2022, where leisure, entertainment, and shopping tourism is one of the 10 products we want to further develop in the next few years,” Romulo-Puyat said.

Based on DOT’s Visitor Sample Survey in 2018, shopping is the most common tourist activity in the country at 38 percent.

With the nationwide sale, the DOT is optimistic the country will be put on the map as a “destination where shopping is fun, unique, and affordable.”

A variety of Philippine-made items will be featured during the sale period as a way to support local craftsmen and artisans as well as their communities.

Travelers can also look for cheaper hotel accommodations as the following groups will support the initiative: the Hotel Sales and Marketing Association, Philippine Franchise Association, Philippine Hotel Owners Association Inc., Philippine Retailers Association, Philippine Tour Operators Association, Philippine Travel Agencies Association, and Tourism Congress of the Philippines.

Airlines including Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific Air, Air Asia, Air Carriers Association of the Philippines will slash off airfare tickets to spur domestic tourism, the agency said.

DOT Assistant Secretary Howard Lance Uyking earlier said the event’s timing bodes well for the industry as it reels from the effects of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) on the travel sector.

“Maganda ‘yung timing niya (It’s perfect timing) because it’s not only the merchandising, even the hotel bookings and flights have discounts. The shopping festival will work well domestically,” he said in a recent media interview. (PNA)