MANILA -- Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat outlined the Philippines’ national policy for sustainable tourism development and response to the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic before the Japanese travel market during the opening of the month-long 2nd Online Travel Mart of the Japan Association of Travel Agents Association (JATA).
The tourism chief led the country presentation last October 27 and was one of the panelists of the International Tourism Forum (ITF) which also included luminaries of the Japanese travel industry like Milton Morinaga, chairman of the board of Guam Tourist Bureau, and Eijiro Yamakita, president and CEO of the Japan Travel Bureau.
The panelists also highlighted their respective policies on the Osaka event’s theme: “How to create a better tourism value chain” and environment for the consumers as well as for the travel business.
Puyat shared the DOT’s tourism programs, the Tourism Response and Recovery Plan (TRRP) and the reformulated National Tourism Development Plan for 2020-2022.
The panelists lauded the DOT’s push for the prioritization of the vaccination of tourism front-liners.
“We must adopt a balanced approach, factoring in economic viability, job generation and environmental sustainability,” Puyat said.
She said the pandemic gave rise to the opportunity for the tourism industry to recalibrate to be more responsible, accountable, inclusive, and sustainable.
She also touted the Filipino brand of service, saying and “we are a nation that is committed to welcoming our guests with a smile and offering our best products and services.”
DOT officials backed her comments with the Philippine country presentation, a two-and-a-half-hour webinar exclusively viewed by JATA member agents.
In her keynote speech, Puyat confirmed the Philippines’ commitment to observe international health and safety standards recognized by international tourism bodies and to pursue upgrading of existing tourism products.
Before the pandemic, Japan was the fourth biggest tourism market for the Philippines.
“We are confident that we can count on JATA’s support so we can add more years to our long and mutually beneficial relationship,” Puyat said.
Maria Anthonette Velasco Allones, chief operating officer of the Tourism Promotions Board, launched the “More Fun Awaits” campaign, communicating the exciting destinations and stories the DOT has prepared for travelers.
Assistant Secretary Christopher Morales delivered an update on the choice destinations of the Japanese travelers, spotlighting nature tourism, marine tourism, adventure tourism, and sun and beach tourism.
This was complemented by a presentation on the DOT’s initiatives to recalibrate domestic tourism products for the international market.
Guiller Asido, chairperson of the Task Force on Domestic Tourism Product and Market Development and concurrent administrator of the Intramuros Administration, presented the domestic tourism circuits and DOT’s goal for the development of high value, low density, and low impact travel products.
Undersecretary Verna Buensuceso introduced community-based food tourism products and experiences across the country.
From the private sector, Hiroki Iwai, sales manager of Chroma Hospitality representing the Hotel Sales and Marketing Association, covered the topic on initiatives of the accommodation sector to ensure the safety of travelers.
Marisa Nallana of the Philippine Association of Convention Exhibition Organizers and Suppliers Inc. (PACEOS) introduced the TPB’s Incentive programs for the MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) industry while briefly updating viewers on the developments in the MICE sector.
Puyat also called on the JATA executives to seek cooperation and active participation in the DOT Team Japan projects as well as updated the virtual audience on the Boracay rehabilitation programs.
JATA conferred on Puyat the Excellent Partner Award for DOT’s role in the rehabilitation of the island on the occasion of the JATA Tourism Expo Japan 2019.
The 2nd JATA Online Travel Mart will run from October 17 to November 30. (PR)