LONDON - United Kingdom continues its unlockdown phase during the pandemic, with the recently-concluded World Travel Market (WTM) from November 1-3, held in Excel London.
The WTM London is the leading global event for the travel industry, where industry professionals meet, explore and close business deals.
In her first overseas trip since the pandemic began, Philippine Department of Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat attended high-level ministerial meetings and sat as one of the panelists in the ministerial discussion on “Investing in Tourism’s Sustainable Future.”
In an interview with ABS-CBN, Romulo-Puyat shared that the Philippines will fully open “when it’s safe for everybody to accept tourists.”
PH TO HOST WTTC IN 2022
Romulo-Puyat is bringing home exciting news: the Philippines will be hosting the the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Summit in Manila next year.
Julia Simpson, president of the WTTC headquartered in London, announced last Wednesday that the summit is set on March 14-16, 2022.
WTTC is a forum for the travel and tourism industry composed of members from the global business community, and works with governments to raise awareness about the travel and tourism industry.
“I cannot tell you how wonderful that is,” said Simpson in a press conference.
“The Philippine summit is our first fully, coming-out-of-COVID summit. It is going to be highly significant I think for the Asia Pacific and the Philippines themselves, as they emerge from what has been a truly difficult path,” added Simpson.
Simpson also projected that by end of 2022, the global travel will be back at 88 percent, and “Asia Pacific will be coming back faster than a lot of areas in the world.”
For Simpson, with the summit theme “Rediscovering Travel,” the Philippines is the best choice to host because of the aim to connect with nature and because of the people.
“The standout factor is that warm welcome. It’s very, very special. It’s unique and another thing--it is Asia. Asia is where the world is happening," said Simpson.
“The other magic ingredient is the loveliness of the people,” she added.
With some 200 top business leaders and CEOs expected to participate and an event intended to attract inward investments, the groundwork is being laid.
“We are looking at the best practices all over the world on how to do a hybrid event,” said Romulo-Puyat, when asked about the COVID threat and safety protocols.
“We are making sure that all our tourist destinations are all fully vaccinated. Of course, we will never compromise health and safety.”
The Philippine Department of Tourism and Tourism Promotions Board (TBP) showcased the Philippines with 4 co-exhibitors in a flamboyant booth, during the three-day WTM summit.
The WTM returned as a hybrid event, with in-face and virtual business appointments from November 8. Some 20 trade participants from the Philippines are representing tour operators, hotels and resorts to meet British and global buyers.
According to Philippine Department of Tourism (PDOT London), the UK remains the most important and top-producing market for the Philippines in Europe. Before the pandemic, British arrivals in the Philippines reached 209,206, posting the second best growth rate in terms of British outbound travel to Southeast Asia in 2019.
During her business trip in the UK, the Romulo-Puyat also updated the British and global travel trade on the Philippine safe travel and protection measures, destination preparations and reopening plans.
PDOT London headed by Tourism attache’ Gerry Panga also hosted a luncheon, attended by the secretary, with key British travel trade and media partners to explore and update on the joint promotional initiatives and maintain the market visibility of the Philippines.
Romulo-Puyat also met with London-based organisers of the Clipper Race which is planning to conduct the resumption of the yacht racing event in Subic in February 2022. The event was suspended mid-race in March 2020 due to the pandemic lockdown.
With the May 2022 elections fast approaching, this may very well be the last WTM for Romulo-Puyat as the head honcho of the DOT.
Asked what legacy she’d leave behind, she said: “I’m probably the only tourism secretary whose job is to re-open our tourist destinations. I guess my legacy would be-- given the situation, I did the best that I could.”