MANILA – Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat has reaffirmed the country’s commitment to the regional tourism cooperation of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on the road to recovery from the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
“More than ever, we are banking on the unity of the tourism industry to ensure that we will together endure and overcome these trying times,” Puyat said in a news release issued Saturday.
She made the assertion during the Special ASEAN Tourism Ministers Meeting held recently.
Puyat was among the 12 leaders who attended the meeting held via teleconference.
She noted that coming from a record-breaking 8.26 million foreign tourist arrivals in 2019, Philippine tourism was off to a good start last January, registering about 8 percent growth rate in foreign visitor arrivals and 9 percent in visitor receipts.
The global health crisis, however, caused foregone revenues of nearly a million dollars just in the first three months of the year.
“The events have caused a major shift in the landscapes of the travel industry. Before, food, culture, and immersions influence a traveler’s choice. Today, safety will be the paramount concern of most, if not all, of our visitors,” Puyat said.
She likewise pledged to actively support the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) message that “by staying at home, we can travel tomorrow,” highlighting the safety measures being implemented in the country.
The government has enforced an enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila, with lockdowns imposed in various parts of the country.
However, Puyat said the Philippines continues to develop recovery plans for various sectors consistent with the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act”, a new law that seeks to address the threat of Covid-19 and through a centralized thrust in response and mitigation efforts.
“The ASEAN, being a diverse mix of peoples from different backgrounds and cultures, must safeguard the backbone of its tourism industry. This period where social distancing and quarantines are observed is a perfect time to reach out to our workforce, train, and retool them for what lies ahead with an enhanced learning opportunity,” she said.
Puyat likewise said her department would emphasize the domestic and intra-ASEAN markets.
“By tapping into our domestic and short-haul markets through effective targeted marketing, we can bypass some of the considerable challenges we face following this pandemic. With the confidence to travel at a low point, let us capitalize on the low-hanging fruit within our borders while the rest of the world slowly regains its footing,” she said. (ia/DOT)