PANGLAO, Bohol – Even in the most unusual ways, the travel business has to continue to keep tourism alive
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat made this statement Friday (September 25) during the closing ceremony of the 2020 Philippine Travel Exchange (PHITEX) held in Panglao, Bohol.
“Our decision to push through with PHITEX on a hybrid mode, with some of us physically traveling to Panglao, proved to be an enriching learning experience for all of us. The policies and practices adopted by the provincial government of Bohol support the gradual, safe and sustainable way to reopen tourism,” Puyat said.
In a press conference earlier today, Puyat said that with the successful staging of 2020 PHITEX, the first tourism event in the world to incorporate a hybrid B2B component, the Department of Tourism (DOT) is now exploring the possibility of reopening the island province to local tourists, particularly the hosting of small meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (M.I.C.E.) events.
Bohol Governor Arthur C. Yap concurred with the tourism chief’s suggestions adding that the idea of hosting M.I.C.E. events “with small and controlled groups” will be considered by the province.
This after Puyat cited Panglao as an ideal travel bubble destination, now declared COVID19-free, and with strict health protocols for travelers. These include the requirement of pre-travel testing and the wearing of face masks and shields and the observance of safe distancing in the plane. Also required are the issuance of contact tracing cards for all visitors to track movements to aid in COVID case management and the adherence of hotels, resorts and other accommodation establishments with DOT-issued standards and protocols.
“For those who are planning to visit Bohol, you will find confidence among our tourism enterprises which have been conferred the purple seal, representing the Ultimate Bohol Experience (UBE). The UBE seal symbolizes adherence and full compliance with standards on safety, health, and sanitation,” added Puyat.
To prepare for the safe resumption of MICE events, the DOT has released the guidelines governing its operations under a modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), and separate protocols governing the operations of MICE organizers under the new normal.
“The DOT shall continuously improve the health and safety guidelines for the conduct of MICE activities in the country to keep up with relevant developments across the globe,” Puyat said.
Now on its 24th year, PHITEX is the country’s largest travel exchange organized by the government, proved special with the event’s hybrid format. From Sept. 23 to 25, a total of 122 foreign buyers from 34 countries participated in a series of virtual activities, from webinars and tours to meetings with 345 seller-delegates from 161 tourism enterprises and groups across the country. Select participants also joined actual tours around the province.
The tourism chief shared that based on partial data as of 8:50 AM of September 26, PHITEX is expected to generate Php 4.5 million in revenue, out of the 32 bookings generated and 367 leads generated (with a success rate of 66%) from September 23 to 25. This, Puyat said, is only for 14 percent or 50 out of the total 354 PHITEX sellers. The event also enabled the establishment of 1,134 contacts, or an average of 23 contacts per seller.
The hybrid PHITEX edition highlighted the Travel Exchange (TRAVEX), a series of exclusive business-to-business virtual appointments between Philippine sellers and foreign buyers. It also included a series of online games and quizzes on Philippine arts and culture called the “Philippines 360” and the “Philippines’ Capital of Fun” which features a specially curated virtual tour of Manila.