‘Not giving up’: PHILTOA sets event plans to jumpstart domestic tourism under ‘new normal’
Rosette Adel (Philstar.com) - May 29, 2020 - 11:14am

MANILA, Philippines — As early as May, the Philippines Tour Operators Association said that it is already coming up with plans to jumpstart the tourism of the country in the context of the so-called new normal.

In a webinar last week, PHILTOA president Cesar Cruz said his group, composed of some 400 tour operators and travel agency members, have been communicating virtually in the past two months to update each other on their situation amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the government-imposed lockdown.

Cruz said the group has embraced virtual technology and are updating situation in each destination where their members are located.

Although crippled by the COVID-19 pandemic, Cruz said the group is optimistic and have already scheduled events that would jumpstart the domestic tourism and fire up the “consciousness” of the traveling public.

“We are not giving up,” he said during the “Re-imagining Food Tourism” webinar hosted by the Department of Tourism and the World Food Expo.

Philippine Travel Mart to push through

The group said it planned on coming up with the virtual version of the Philippine Travel Mart (PTM) by October and a physical version by December.

The PTM is longest-running annual travel exhibition that helps promote domestic and inbound tourism by showcasing tour product offerings to both local and foreign visitors. This year’s 31st edition was initially announced to be held from September 4 to 6 at the SMX Convention Center.

“We believe that we have to start travel activity before the end of the year to bring back again that kind of consciousness for our traveling public. Having this kind of show would more or less slowly generate again that kind of consciousness for our traveling public to go traveling again outside of their homes,” Cruz said.

“This will be done within the context of new normal,” he added.

Against all odds but optimistic

Cruz explained that they are doing event-planning “against all odds.”

“We cannot just sit here,” he said.

The PHILTOA president said they are planning to hold the event in an area where people normally go.

“Hopefully, the new normal will improve much better in terms of social distancing but even then, we would pursue with the Philippine Travel Mart,” Cruz said.

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted the implementation of community quarantine guidelines that prohibited tourism in the country since March.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat last week said the DOT estimated a decrease of 54.01% in foreign tourist arrivals for the period of January to April 2020 with only 1,318,719 visitors recorded compared to last year’s 2,867,551. The agency also estimated a revenue decrease of 55.79% in January to April this year with only P79.80 billion revenue compared to the previous year’s P180.52 billion.

The tourism industry is an income driver and has contributed to 12.7% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product in 2019. It also generated 5.4 million jobs in 2018.

Despite the financial losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cruz said his group is embracing the situation and is doing all means to survive.

“To all the sectors of the industry, we feel quite bad right now but at this point we are doing all the innovations all the possible alterations in our business model to survive at least until we get the first side of the business coming back again hopefully at the end of this year,” he concluded.

BERNADETTE ROMULO-PUYAT DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM NOVEL CORONAVIRUS PHILIPPINE TRAVEL MART
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