MANILA -- The Philippine Travel Exchange (PHITEX) is pushing through this week and will be held both offline and online as the novel coronavirus pandemic continues.
PHITEX is held annually by the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), an attached agency of the Department of Tourism (DOT).
This year's exchange, themed "PHITEX Pivots: Business Unusual," kicks off with a virtual event from September 22 to 24 featuring more than 100 Philippine sellers and 100 foreign buyers.
This will be followed by a "travel in the new normal" event in Bohol from September 25 to 27.
In a recent virtual briefing with the media, TPB chief operating officer Maria Anthonette Velasco-Allones said this year's PHITEX main event will have 350 delegates, but only about 100 participants will go to Bohol's Panglao island.
"We are taking this opportunity to harness the digital platform to explore new opportunities and markets for PHITEX," she said.
"We are confident that as we reach out to tourism market stakeholders from all over the world with the latest Philippine tourism offerings, we will be able to gradually reopen our country for visitors and spur the recovery of the industry," she added.
Bohol Governor Arthur Yap, for his part, said the event will be an opportunity for the province to showcase its tourism recovery efforts amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Registration at the virtual PHITEX is free of charge at the event's website, with priority for DOT-accredited suppliers and TPB members.
Philippine sellers and foreign buyers can set and attend online appointments, allowing them to network effectively without leaving their home offices.
There will also be a series of webinars, interview sessions, and roundtable sessions with key industry players, a virtual tour of Manila, online games and quizzes on Philippine culture and the arts, and tourism marketing videos that can be accessed by participants.
The PHITEX event in Bohol, on the other hand, will include scheduled tours of heritage and ecotourism sites across its countryside for selected delegates.
Organizers assured that health and safety protocols will be strictly implemented.
Meanwhile, Velasco-Allones stressed that this year's PHITEX will be a pre-selling activity as travel is still limited due to the pandemic.
She said she expects the trips to be "realized by next year."