Thursday, February 16, 2012

Success on Hot Air Balloon Fiesta 2012

About 100,000 people attended the 17th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta 2012 at the Air force City in Clark, up from last year’s 85,000. Most of them were domestic tourists from Northern Luzon and Metro Manila. Only about 5 percent were foreign visitors.

26 colorful, huge hot air balloons painted the sky, leaving spectators in awe and wishing that they too can join this wonderful ride.


They witnessed the beautiful hot air balloons which come from the different parts of the world, such as California USA, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Denmark and of course we have from the Philippines, commandeered by licensed balloon pilots from all over the world.

Hot air balloons were designed as Panda, ice cream, cake, sunflower to the delight of the crowd.

The 4-day event from February 9-12 dubbed as a ‘weekend for everything that flies’ also featured aircraft maneuvers and precision flying, ultra light planes and sky diving.

Department of Tourism (DOT) Regional director Ronaldo Tiotuico said they expect to surpass last year’ ticket sales of over P15 million. A one -day pass ticket was sold at P200.

He sees the potential to make the event brighter and bigger, as Philippines is the only country in Southeast Asia, which host the Hot Air balloon fiesta. The biggest hot air event in the world, he said is in Turkey.

"The thrust is to make Clark a sports tourism destination where we can hold event like this hot air balloon festival. The Department of Tourism supports this event which is sponsored by Clark Development Corporation. CDC has already develop sports tourism here such as triathlon, slow -pitch tournament, softball and baseball," he said.

Tiotuico said as the years passed, more and more private companies joined and many shops, fast food opened which also help in revenue generation.

He said hot air balloons cost $20,000-$30,000 a piece, and are imported. He added that there is a potential to manufacture the basket made of rattan here which can carry 2-5 people.

He added that the event also entice companies to advertise through the balloons.

He said Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino, already offers rental of its hot air balloon for P20,000 for two hours.

There are things you should know before riding the balloon. First, you must be with a licensed balloon pilot. And most importantly you must understand that the hot air balloons use propane gas, which is environment friendly, yet more explosive than LPG.

"They (the hot air balloons) are at the mercy of the wind . There is no steering wheel. If the wind is calm, you’ll just stay put. If the wind blows so strong, it has the tendency to shake and set the balloon on fire. The pilot must really really be skilled," he said.

It can go as far as 10 kilometers, an altitude of 15,000 ft. for an hour.

Aside from the balloons, the main attraction were the demonstration flight and skydiving exhibition of Philippine Air force; Philippine, Malaysian, Spain, Australia paragliding exhibition, ultra light flour bombing demonstration, light aircraft balloon bursting competition, and skydiving and tandem jumping exhibition.

The Philippine Air Force led the national anthem, on a parachute while holding the Philippine flag.

Souvenir items like miniature hot air balloons, T-shirts, stuff toys, house decors, toys were sold. Kites and hot air balloon miniatures were priced as low as P50-P60 and as high as P500.

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