Philippines safe and ideal place to travel amid pandemic: Official

Manila: The Philippines Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat has said the Southeast Asian country, comprising 7,641 islands in the western Pacific Ocean, is now a safe and ideal global tourist destination amid the pandemic.

In the nearly two years when international travel was put on hold, the Philippines was busy preparing for the day when it would be open to the world, she said.

"We have put in place measures that will ensure the safety of our guests, our tourism workforce, and our community, she said.

The Philippines hosted the 21st World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit, touted as the most influential annual travel and tourism event, in the nation's capital Manila recently.

Speaking to PTI, Puyat said she is optimistic about more Indian tourists visiting her country, compared to the pre-pandemic levels.

We successfully hosted the mega event, attended by foreign government tourism delegations, top executives of hotels, airlines, travel agencies, tour operators, transportation, and entertainment companies, she said.

Puyat stressed the importance of synergy among government agencies, and collaboration with the private sector to build a better tourism industry, adding these factors would define the future of travel and tourism.

Since April 1 this year, the Philippines has been welcoming fully-vaccinated tourists from all countries, with no test upon arrival nor quarantine, she said.

In September 2020, the Philippines was granted the use of the WTTC Safe Travels Stamp, the world's first safety and hygiene stamp for travellers to recognise governments and businesses that have adopted global health standardized protocols, she said.

With the easing of travel restrictions, tourists are once more getting to enjoy Philippines attractions like open spaces, outdoor destinations, and nature reserves, she said.

With as many as 98 per cent of tourism workers fully vaccinated, the country is assuring tourists a safe and enjoyable stay, she added.

Julia Simpson, CEO and President of the WTTC, shared the organisation's latest Economic Impact Report on travel and tourism in the Philippines. It says the local tourism industry is projected to have an annual growth rate of 6.7 per cent in the next 10 years, exceeding the Philippines economy's rate of 5.6 per cent.

The sector will also generate 2.9 million new jobs, accounting for 21.5 per cent of all jobs in the Philippines, she said.

The over 1,000 delegates from 50 countries who attended the Summit included around 30 government delegations and as many as 10,000 virtual participants.

Rediscovering Travel was the theme of the three-day event, and big names in the global travel and tourism industry shared key learnings and insights on sustained changes needed to make travel more popular while maintaining the health and safety of travellers.

Eva Stewart, Global Sector Head of Travel and Tourism at YouGov, a market research and data company, said 70 per cent of travellers are more inclined to visit lesser-known destinations, while 55 per cent are interested in carbon-negative travel.

She put the number of sustainability-minded travellers around the world at 300 million.

Best-selling author of Crazy Rich Asians Kevin Kwan said he wanted to make his next movie in the Philippines.

Academy Award-winning film producer Lawrence Bender said when film crews come to certain destinations to create their movies, the local economy also benefits from it, from hiring local people to renting accommodation and local props, resulting in a net positive for the local economy.

Jeremy Jauncey, founder and CEO of the social media-led creative and strategic travel community called Beautiful Destinations, said digital is at the centre of how the travellers of the future make their decisions.

He said the industry should rethink how they reach out to their customers and clientele. Today, we live in a world where over 65 per cent of millennial and Gen Z consumers believe that digital identity is more important than their physical one, he added.

With as many as 90 per cent of millennial and Gen Z consumers booking travel based on what they see on social media platforms, the industry should act to market travel and tourism experiences online, from the ease of booking to delivering virtual moments prior to in-person destination offerings, he said.

Melati Wijsen, the 20-year-old Indonesian activist who co-founded the Bye Bye Plastic Bags movement, and was in 2018 named one of the World's most influential teens by Time magazine, was among the speakers.

Wijsen said the private sector moves faster than the public sector, and it is crucial to engage with both to make an impact.

The private sector has a really incredible position to push further, to demand more, and lead by example for the governments, she added.

She also stressed the need for companies to have sustainability initiatives integrated into how they do business and be more than just one-off projects or marketing campaigns for corporate social responsibility departments.

British adventurer Bear Grylls was a keynote speaker and joined the Summit via video link.

Known worldwide as one of the most recognised faces of survival and outdoor adventure, he narrated his journey in operating under pressure.

He spoke about his three-year tenure in the Special Forces, as part of the 21 SAS Regiment, where he perfected many of the survival skills that his fans enjoy.

Grylls recounted the free-fall parachuting accident in Africa, where he broke his back in three places and endured a prolonged rehabilitation and going on to climb the Mount Everest.

Next Story
Share it