PHITEX 2020. Officials from the Department of Tourism led by Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat (virtually), Assistant Secretary for Product and Market Development Verna Buensuceso (left), TPB COO Maria Anthonette Velasco-Allones (2nd from left), Undersecretary Benito Bengzon, Jr. (right), and Bohol Governor Arthur Yap lead the launch of the PHITEX 2020 held from Sept. 22 to 24. The event was marked by a unique vertical concert viewed by the delegates from their respective balconies and through live streaming. (Photo courtesy of TPB Philippines)
MANILA – The Philippine Travel Exchange (PHITEX) 2020, the first-ever MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) event staged in the country since a lockdown in March, was a “success” after it generated PHP4.5 million worth of confirmed bookings for 2021 onwards.
“Nobody thought that we could pull this off and this is the first time that we are having a hybrid edition first in the world. Most of all these travel trade events are done online, it is the first time that people are actually in a tourist destination,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in a virtual presser on Saturday.
She said the 32 bookings worth PHP4.5 million only came from 14 percent of the participating businesses and that revenue is expected to go up as they await reports from the remaining Philippines sellers.
“It shows that they have confidence that when they come to the Philippines, it’s safe for their tourists to come here,” she said.
Some 50 participants joined the three-day hybrid PHITEX 2020 physically in Panglao, Bohol as they engaged stakeholders virtually.
Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) chief operating officer Maria Anthonette Velasco-Allones said the event showed that the level of confidence among travelers about Philippine destinations remains high.
“Importante po ito kasi kahit ‘di pa lifted ‘yung travel restriction mayroon na tayong na-generate na bookings, ganoon ka-solid ‘yung nakikita ng ating tourists overseas (This is important because even if the travel restrictions are not yet lifted, we were able to generate bookings and this shows how tourists overseas look at the Philippines),” she said.
Bohol Governor Arthur Yap also said PHITEX 2020 reflected the feasibility of hosting MICE even amid coronavirus as long as health and safety protocols are followed.
“Our other learning is that we can actually curate the travel, we can actually control the travel, we can actually say there are no do-it-yourself (trips) because of the bubble within the bubble you have in here,” he said.
After capping off the travel exchange, Yap said the LGU is now looking at Bohol as a possible MICE destination under the new normal.
“MICE actually attracts me because you’re talking at bigger control groups and it has mass scale,” he said.
PHITEX is the country’s biggest, government-organized travel trade event which seeks to generate bookings, business deals between Philippine sellers and foreign buyers.
It is a platform where Filipino tour operators, hotels, travel agencies are able to sell products and market destinations within the country.
Bohol, its host from September 22 to 24, remains close to tourists but Romulo-Puyat is hopeful that the local government unit would approve the resumption of tourism in the province before Christmas.
“I think we’ve proven to Governor Yap that it can be done as long as it is well-coordinated with the LGU… I’m actually confident before Christmas but of course, this is up to the local government,” she said. (PNA)