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Philippine tourism recovery from pandemic is a 'whole-of-country' approach — Frasco

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com

RIYADH, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia — The Philippine tourism industry’s path towards recovery from the global pandemic is one carved through strong relationships built with local government units and communities to promote our heritage and implement sustainable tourism practices, Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco said.

Speaking at the World Travel and Tourism Council Global Summit in Riyadh, Frasco said the Philippines has an inherent edge in the tourism industry with its more than 7,000 islands that serve hosts to many accommodation sectors, and with the globally known and distinct Filipino hospitality.

With the return of domestic and international tourism, Frasco added: “We have been trying to do is to equalize tourism promotion and development.”

She explained that they achieve this “by continuing to develop our key destinations such as Cebu, Palawan and Boracay on one hand, while giving an opportunity to lesser known destinations to come to the fore and to be developed and to be lent with the expertise of the Department of Tourism and its attached agencies.”

The DOT secretary added that investors coming to the Philippines can also expect their business to flourish as “the people that will populate these accommodation establishments are Filipino people with the distinct ability to convey the Filipino brand of service to all our guest4s.”

Frasco was among the panelists at the “Travel is a Solution for Enhanced Livelihoods.” She was joined by Greece’s Minister of Tourism Vassilis Kikilias; Cruise Line Industry Association Chief Executive Officer Kelly Craighead; Abercrombie and Kent Manfredi Lefebvre and Palace Resorts Executive Vice-President Gibran Chopur.

The summit, with the theme “Travel for a Better Future,” saw last November 28 to 30 the gathering of nearly 3,000 delegates from across the globe, including former and incumbent tourism ministers, business leaders in the global travel and accommodation sectors and members of the media.

RELATED: As Saudi Arabia opens up to tourism, will OFWs bring their families to visit?

Recovery in Asia and Pacific

At a different panel, in The Recovery of Travel in Asia & the Pacific breakout session, JTB Corp. Chaiperson Hiroyuki Takahashi said domestic travel was key in boosting of Japan’s travel industry.

But he noted that in Japan, their nationals are “hesitant” to travel outside of their country amid the pandemic. “Even now, almost everyone in Japan is wearing a [face] mask,” he shared.

Pacific Asia Travel Association CEO Liz Ortiguera, a speaker of the same panel, pointed out the “great sense of community” in Asia. “It’s protecting the community and travelers,” she said.

Takahashi however said they expect travelers will still continue to be cautious like avoiding crowded places and traveling in small groups.

But he said in the coming years, they expect that travelers will seek “nature-based, outdoor adventures” that are also environmentally sustainable.

Meanwhile in the Philippines, Frasco explained that as a former mayor of Cebu, she has full appreciation of the importance of working with local communities to develop and preserve tourist destinations.

“It’s imperative to work with mayors with governors with district representatives with community leaders so that theories about sustainability have a chance at actual implementation,” she stressed.

Frasco shared that the department has recently launched the Philippine experience program, a caravan on the heritage, culture, and arts that will take travelers through the Philippines’ 16 regions.

Through this program, the DOT “will conduct heritage mapping, culture mapping, product mapping as well as discuss with local communities imperative and important sustainability practices that they can adapt in their tourist destinations.”

“And therefore, it’s a whole-of-government, whole-of-country approach as far as implementing sustainable practices in our communities,” she added.

 

Editor's note: The trip to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was hosted by World Travel and Tourism Council. At no stage does the host organization has a say on the stories generated from the coverage, interviews conducted, publication date and story treatment. Content is produced solely by Philstar.com following editorial guidelines.

CHRISTINA FRASCO

TOURISM

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