More than 30 years ago, when tourists did not have handy Lonely Planet travel book guides, nor the Internet to surf for vacation destinations, plane reservations and hotel bookings in the Philippines, Ms. Alejandra Clemente was already providing inbound travelers with such services and much more through Rajah Tours. That early, she already saw the potential of tourism as a top-earning industry for the country.
After receiving her Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Santo Tomas, Ms. Clemente practiced law for two years before joining the Board of Travel & Tourism in 1962. After getting married, she established Rajah Tours, an inbound tour operating company, at the Ambassador Hotel in 1972. She started with only P10,000 capital and three staff members. She chose the name Rajah, derived from the highest-ranking monarch in the Philippines during the pre-colonial period, because her mission was to provide travel services fit for royalty.
During Rajah’s early years, Ms. Clemente personally oversaw operations, concentrated on the quality of service, and interacted with their foreign clients. From the 1970s through the early 1980s, Rajah Tours handled an average of 1,000 tourists a day. To strengthen the company’s marketing efforts overseas, Rajah Tours opened an office in Tokyo in 1978 and in San Francisco, California in 1983.
In 1986, Rajah Tours, along with Rajah Travel Corporation, Trans-Inter Corporation, and the Philippine Congress Organizing Center formed the Rajah Group of Companies. Operating as a one-stop shop, the group works with precise coordination, making the Rajah Group of Companies the biggest tourism-oriented organization in the country. In 1995, Rajah Travel partnered with Carlson Wagonlit, one of the world’s largest corporate travel management companies.
Rajah Tours is, by far, the country’s oldest and largest travel company in terms of sales volume. It is also recognized as the Number One inbound tour operator in the country. It is the only Kalakbay Hall of Famer as the Inbound Tour Operator of the Year. The company was the first recipient of Best Travel Agency: Philippines in the 1998 Travel Awards organized by Miller Freeman, the publisher of TTG Asia and PTN Asia.