MANILA – The Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) on Tuesday reported that the hybrid Philippine Travel Exchange (PHITEX) last month has generated a total of PHP42 million in confirmed bookings, a success amid the restrictions posed by the pandemic on the MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) sector.

The 2020 edition of PHITEX is a mix of a virtual and physical event in Panglao Island in Bohol from Sept. 22 to 24, 2020, with the distinction of being the first hybrid major travel trade event to transition amid the pandemic.

The event’s virtual platform gathered 122 international buyers from 34 countries, with 345 seller delegates from 161 companies in various tourism industry subsectors. It also recorded 84,946 engagements, including 9,155 business to business (B2B) sessions.

As of October 19, some 3,956 contacts were established, averaging 28 contacts per seller, and 1,205 leads were generated, with a 70-percent success rate that is even higher than the lead generation success rate of 67 percent in the 2019 PHITEX.

The 76 bookings secured on-site generated a total projected revenue valued at over PHP42.1 million, the TPB said

“We pivoted this year’s PHITEX to convey the message that the Philippine tourism industry always means business, be in usual or unusual times. This year’s hybrid set-up was made in consideration of the tourism sector’s patriotic duty to initiate efforts towards recovery, as well as to prove that travel and business events are possible in the new normal scenario,” said Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.

A total of 16 leading tourism industry players and lawmakers were featured in discussions on strategies and innovations projected to shape the sector in the post-Covid world. The platform also curated a virtual tour of Manila and provided links to Philippine tourism videos.

The delegates in Bohol managed to benchmark with properties, and experience Bohol’s new normal tourism products recalibrated under the visionary leadership of Governor Arthur Yap.

“PHITEX indeed fulfilled what it set out to prove that as long as health and safety protocols are followed, tourism can go on in the new normal, giving memorable experiences for tourists, jobs to tourism workers and allied industries, and a much-needed boost to the economy,” Romulo-Puyat said. (PNA)