The tourism industry will recover.

This is the consensus of tourism experts tapped by the Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) in partnership with World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) as it launched its free Facebook webinar on Tuesday, May 19, 2020.

In the webinar titled “The Future of Travel: A World Travel and Tourism Council Exclusive Panel,” the DOT and WTTC invited preeminent speakers from three segments of tourism: Aviation, Investments, and Accommodation to discuss major impacts of COVID-19 on the global tourism industry, and to share how industry stakeholders can respond and slowly recover from the wrath of the pandemic.

DOT Photo

DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat expressed her confidence in rebuilding the local tourism industry with the help of WTTC, whose primary initiative is crisis preparedness, management and recovery in the travel and tourism industry.

“The WTTC has worked with the World Economic Forum, the World Health Organization and key stakeholders in coming up with recommendations to minimize the impact of past pandemics in the industry. Acknowledging this fact, we are definitely certain that their insights will be greatly beneficial to our local tourism players,” said Puyat, who delivered her opening remarks at the webinar.

WTTC President and CEO Gloria Guevara Manzo focused on discussing a global coordinated approach to re-establish effective operations, remove travel barriers and re-open borders, adding that to enhance a seamless traveler journey experience, it is imperative to add health components and combine the latest technology, and necessary protections and protocols. She noted that global protocols or standards defined by the travel and tourism private sector, health experts, and public sector can help gain back travelers’ confidence.

Mr. Craig Smith, President and Managing Director of Asia Pacific Marriott International who lauded the bullish travel and tourism industry in Philippines for the past five years noting the construction of at least 21 projects in the country undertaken by Marriott International, shared optimism that the industry will “certainly recover”, and that Asia will recover faster than any part of the world, though one can expect that it will happen in different segments, and different geographies. “Travel will change and there will be a new normal, we have to be ready for that,” stressed Smith.

Foreseeing major uncertainties in global capital flows, Ms. Shirley Tan, CEO of Rajawali Property Group, reminds investors of the importance of securing new investments, while putting in effort in asset management, capital preservation, and liquidity management at the same time. She also cited increased collaboration among private sector and government as one of the keys to tourism industry recovery, and encourages Philippine tourism industry players to explore and take advantage of the latest technologies in offering novel and more creative on-site experiences that can attract the younger travel demographic.

Mr. Gary Chapman, President of the Group Services and DNATA Emirates Group, forecasts a three- to four-year recovery period for the airline industry. He stressed the necessity of setting “consistent and clear standards,” adding that it will be a “different world, a different tourism industry in general”.

Meanwhile, Puyat enjoined the support of all sectors to ensure that health and safety protocols are in place to regain travelers confidence, “There is more to tourism than just counting the numbers of arriving tourists; we are in the business of selling destinations so communities will thrive; we market adventure so our people will be employed; we promote culture as a way of preserving our heritage. The concept of tourism is deeply embedded in our consciousness, and I would like to believe that this is what makes our industry resilient from all the challenges, even the toughest one that we are about to overcome,” enthused Puyat.

Since April, the DOT has successfully organized online learning courses that aim to help local tourism players become more competitive, with new knowledge, technological advances, and ways to innovate and to be able to cater to a new breed of travelers.

“The challenges brought about by the current health crisis that we are experiencing should not deter us from fulfilling our mission to ensure that the industry is seamless, secure, safe, inclusive and sustainable,” the tourism chief stressed.

Balikbayan Media Center
Balikbayan Media Center

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