By Katlene O. Cacho

LUXURY travel company Abercrombie & Kent recently explored tourism sites in Cebu and Bohol as part of its 26-day world tour across 10 countries.

Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 Director Rowena Montecillo said the 55 guests, including the staff and crew of Abercrombie & Kent headed by its founder and chairman, Geoffrey Kent, arrived last week. She said it was the first luxury group to visit the

Philippines and the first private jet tour by the company to the country.

The group stayed for three nights in Cebu and did a whole-day countryside tour in Bohol, where they explored the famous sites like Chocolate Hills and were entertained by the Loboc Children’s Choir.

According to Montecillo, Abercrombie & Kent embarked on a chartered flight to Bohol via Philippine Airlines. They also rented choppers for aerial tours of Chocolate Hills.

“These are the type of guests who do luxury travel. They value so much their time that they opt not to travel by land,” said Montecillo.

The Cebu-Bohol itinerary was handled by Sharp Travel Agency.

Abercrombie & Kent has catered to luxury travel since 1962.

Originally, Abercrombie & Kent was founded to provide travel to Africa. Now, the travel company has expanded with numerous destinations such as Antarctica, the Arctic, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Egypt, Middle East, Europe, India, Latin America, and North America.

Abercrombie & Kent’s visit to the Philippines stemmed from the invitation of DOT Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. in one of his travels abroad. Montecillo said the tourism secretary invited Kent to include the Philippines in their world tour itinerary.

“It is an honor for the country to welcome this group. These are the type tourists who travel in

class. Everything (from arrival to departure) is done in special arrangements. We have handled VIP tours, but this is more than that. It’s more exclusive,” she said, adding that guests of Abercrombie & Kent normally pay at least $200,000 per person to join the world tour.

The Philippines has been eyeing to capture the high-spending luxury travel market.

“The group’s visit in Cebu and Bohol opens opportunity for the Philippines to be known in the international luxury travel market,” said the regional tourism chief.

She added that the group was pleased by the country’s warm hospitality from the arrangements, services, food and entertainment.

“In fact, Mr. Kent expressed his intention to come back on the same month next year,” said Montecillo.

According to the special study of the World Travel Monitor conducted by IPK International published last year, the global luxury travel sector posted the strongest growth among all tourism and travel sectors, growing 48 percent over a five-year period, while other types of foreign trips grew by 28 percent.

IPK International is a tourism consulting company that does travel research, tourism marketing, and tourism master plans.