The Tourism Promotions Board together with the Provincial Government of Bohol hosted a virtual Press Conference for the Philippine Travel Exchange or PHITEX 2020 today, September 16, 2020.
The Pivots in PHITEX 2020
On its 19th year, the Philippine Travel Exchange takes on a new way of staging this year’s event. The Chief Operating Officer of Tourism Promotions Board, Ms. Maria Anthonette C. Velasco-Allones explained that the event is staged as “hybrid”. They will partly meet with the stakeholders, Philippine sellers and international buyers both in a virtual and physical set up. She further went on that the whole event will be a preparation and “pre-selling” of tourism services that, with all hopes, could be gained by 2021.
Currently, the Tourism Promotions Board expects an engagement from 350 delegates including the foreign buyers from 33 countries. 62% of which are considered as opportunity markets. Sellers from the Philippines have also confirmed their participation. These include resorts and hotels, convention centers, airlines and more.
PHITEX 2020’s Official Virtual Platform
The actual PHITEX 2020 event will happen on September 22 to 24, 2020. delegates who will join virtually can use the PHITEX 2020 Official Virtual Platform. This allows the participants to engage into the following activities:
- 2-day Travel Exchange
- Roundtable discussions
- Speed networking sessions
- Online games
- Opening and closing receptions
- Virtual tours
The Hosting Province, Bohol
The physical interaction of the attendees, on the other hand, will take place in Bohol. Governor Arthur C. Yap discussed how they dealt with the COVID-19 cases in the province vis-à-vis their preparations for PHITEX 2020 and eventually, opening for local travel. Gov. Yap detailed their systematic process of testing and contact tracing within the province. He gave a preview of Bohol’s Contact Tracing Mobile Application that will facilitate the tracking itself. Further, it is seen to be crucial to both its residents and the travelers’ safety.
The “Travel Bubble”
Gov. Yap also mentioned the concept of “Travel Bubbles” in Bohol. Initially, they plan to open a town which is a “bubble within a bubble” with Bohol itself being the bigger one.
Primarily, the provincial government targets to promote certain routes and itineraries in these travel bubbles. Apart from Bohol’s physical beauty, they also want to feature the heritage churches, musical prowess, local performers, art, agriculture and its people.
The provincial government intends to open Panglao as its first bubble since it is where the international airport is situated. However, it only accommodates the Locally Stranded Individuals (LSIs) and returning OFWs as of now. There will be no commercial flights yet until the travel restrictions and ban are finally lifted. Panglao, though, will be among the first places in the country to open to International tourists. Apparently, the other towns and points of interest will remain closed until they earn the UBE seal.
The UBE Seal
UBE stands for the Ultimate Bohol Experience. Bohol’s Department of Tourism grants this seal of accreditation to establishments who strictly comply with their standards. Of course, the safety and health protocols are of high regard as well. Establishments with such seal are allowed to operate already.
Ms. Maria Anthonette C. Velasco-Allones made it clear that PHITEX 2020 is but a ‘Government’s balancing act’ and a preparation only for the opening of the tourism industry. She also added that it is a part of the genuine process to evolve in different aspects to get the destinations ready when the borders finally open.
Governor Arthur C. Yap ended with the parting words saying that the only certain thing in this time of uncertainty is that: the country has had losses and will continue to have more if actions are not taken. There is no playbook for COVID; thus, we may make mistakes together and improve based on those.
In a nutshell, PHITEX 2020 is but a great opportunity to improve systems especially in the tourism industry.