Travel business has to continue to keep tourism alive – Sec. Puyat

The holding of the 2020 Philippine Travel Exchange (PHITEX) on a hybrid mode in Panglao, Bohol proved to be an enriching learning experience, said Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat during the closing ceremony. 

“The travel business has to continue even in the most unusual way to keep tourism alive,” Sec. Puyat stressed. 

The PHITEX is the country’s largest travel exchange organized by the government. It was dubbed as a special event for its 24th year for it was organized on a hybrid format with combined activities both online and offline from September 23 to 25, 2020.

According to the Dept. of Tourism, “a total of 122 foreign buyers from 34 countries participated in a series of virtual activities, from webinars and tours to meetings with 345 seller-delegates from 161 tourism enterprises and groups across the country.”

“A select number of participants physically traveled to Panglao to join actual tours around the province.” the agency said as posted on its Facebook page. 

The holding of the 2020 PHITEX is by far the first tourism event in the world to incorporate a hybrid B2B component and Sec. Puyat commended the Bohol Provincial Government for employing policies and practices that support gradual, safe, and sustainable reopening of tourism. 

The hybrid PHITEX edition highlighted the Travel Exchange (TRAVEX), a series of exclusive business-to-business virtual appointments between Philippine sellers and foreign buyers generating 9,155 B2B sessions.

It also included a series of online games and quizzes on Philippine arts and culture called the “Philippines 360” and the “Philippines’ Capital of Fun” which featured a specially curated virtual tour of Manila.

The tourism secretary reported that PHITEX was expected to generate Php4.5 million in revenue, out of the 32 bookings that the event generated and 367 leads generated (with a success rate of 66%) from September 23 to 25. 

The event also enabled the establishment of 1,134 contacts, or an average of 23 contacts per seller. 

The successful staging of PHITEX prompted the Dept. of Tourism to now explore the possibility of reopening the island province to local tourists, particularly the hosting of small meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (M.I.C.E.) events citing Panglao as an ideal travel bubble destination for it is declared COVID-19 free and with strict health protocols in place for travelers. 

Health protocols implemented in Panglao includes pre-travel testing, wearing of face masks and shields, and strict observance of physical distancing in the plane.

Travelers and visitors are also required to comply with contact tracing cards to track movements as part of COVID case management and adherence to DOT-issued standards and protocols enforced by hotels, resorts and other accommodation establishments. 

“For those who are planning to visit Bohol, you will find confidence among our tourism enterprises which have been conferred the purple seal, representing the Ultimate Bohol Experience (UBE). The UBE seal symbolizes adherence and full compliance with standards on safety, health, and sanitation,” Puyat highlighted.


*The report is sourced from

**Accompanying featured photo is credited by DOT to the Tourism Promotions Board.

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