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PHL Tourism Chief initiates tourism cooperation talks with Italian Tourism Minister

ROME, Italy — Philippine Department of Tourism (PDOT) Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco on Nov. 10 (Thursday) paid a courtesy visit to the Office of the Italian Minister of Tourism, Her Excellency (HE) Daniela Garnero Santaché, to discuss the tourism ties between the Republic of the Philippines and the Italian Republic, and to forge for the very first time a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on tourism between the two countries.

Secretary Frasco congratulated Minister Santaché for her fresh term as the head of the Ministry of Tourism in Italy, which started in October 2022.

“Please accept our warmest congratulations on your assumption of the new government, as well as your assumption as Ministry of Tourism. We recognize your country to be a very important partner for the Philippines in many aspects. We celebrate 75 years of our official relations, and we share with you a love for many things Italian,” Secretary Frasco said.

“In 2019, we welcomed almost 40,000 Italians into the Philippines as tourists. We are very interested in increasing that number,” she added.

In particular, the PDOT chief made a proposal to enter a Memorandum of Understanding with the Italian Minister of Tourism. “We would be very interested and happy to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding on tourism cooperation among our two countries and ministries, recognizing that we could work together to mutually develop,” she added.

Minister Santaché positively received Secretary Frasco’s invitation to forge a tourism agreement.

“We would like to continue the collaboration that our two countries have before. Also, [from the level of the Minister of Tourism of Italy and Philippines], we share the interest that you shared to have a Memorandum of Understanding of trying to have coordination,” said Minister Santaché.

Secretary Frasco and Minister Santaché, in particular, are eyeing possible tourism coordination in cross-promoting dive sites in Rome and Philippines, increasing accessibility by reinstating direct flights between the two countries, and provision of Italian language training assistance to Filipino tourism workers.

Listening Session in Rome

Maximizing her official overseas mission as the head of the successful Philippine delegation to the World Travel Market (WTM) 2022 London, Frasco also continued her listening session in Rome, Italy with the objective of enhancing the mutual travel exchange between the Philippines and Italy by fostering new and existing partnerships with Italian travel and tourism players.

“The Italian market is a very important source market for the Philippines,” Secretary Frasco said.

“A wave of optimism has taken over our country, considering that our government has identified tourism to be a top priority agenda and as a major economic pillar for our resurgence,” Secretary Frasco added.

Representatives from the aviation sector, the media, travel and tours sectors, and the diving community participated in the meeting.

The Tourism Secretary assured the attendees of the Philippine government’s efforts to make travel into the Philippines more convenient for international tourists through infrastructure improvements such as the enhancement of international airports, continued negotiations with airlines to reinstate discontinued routes,

Thanking the Italian tourism stakeholders for their suggestions and insights, the Tourism Secretary said, “We’ve noted all of your valuable insight because our desire is really to continue to improve the conditions in the Philippines to be able to encourage more people to come into the country.”

Among the Italian stakeholders in attendance are Alpitour, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Go World, Guidda Viaggi, H20, KeL 12, L’Agenzia di Viaggi, Nautica, Travel Quotidiano, TTG Italia, Turismo & Attualita, Qatar Airways, VIA Viaggi in Avventura, and Viaggi del Mappamondo.

With Secretary Frasco during the meetings were Embassy of the Philippines in Rome Chargé d’Affaires Nina Cainglet and Vice Consul Nadine Morales, and DOT Undersecretaries Shahlimar Tamano and Verna Buensuceso.




Philippine Experience Caravans to roll out 2023 – Frasco

The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Monday formally launched its new promotional project that would herald the country’s rich heritage, arts, and culture through a series of caravans in the first quarter of 2023.

Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia-Frasco launched the Philippine Experience: Culture Heritage, and Arts Caravans on Monday at the Philippine Tourism Industry Convergence Reception attended by President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., First Lady Louise Araneta Marcos, Vice President  Sara Z. Duterte, and top officials and executives of the various tourism industries.

“The Philippines ushers in a new era for tourism built upon the strength of our cultural identity, our unity as a nation and renewed global interest in our country’s offerings. Our shared tourism governance will spell the success of our aspirations for a sustainable, inclusive, and resilient tourism industry. Together, we will transform the Philippines into a tourism powerhouse in Asia,” the tourism chief said, noting that the DOT is positive on the prospects of tourism recovery and economic resurgence as the Philippines has remained a top-of-mind destination among international travelers this year having earned numerous accolades from prestigious award-giving bodies and travel publications.

The launch of the caravans is part of the recalibration of tourism products centered around the country’s “Filipino-ness” and its unique and defining cultural attributes as a nation.

The project will highlight the Filipino brand and identity in all aspects of the travel and tourism experience which will facilitate cultural tourism circuit development focused on heritage, culture, and arts to enhance current tour and domestic circuit offerings, which include thematic experiences on Food and Gastronomy, Pilgrimage and Wellness, Festivals, Living Cultures and Heritage, and the Arts.

It also aims to link key destinations to lesser known destinations, as well as expand the country’s tourism portfolio that includes sun and beach offerings, nature-based tourism, diving, food, education, health, MICE, and farm tourism.

Frasco, who is a native of Cebu and the former mayor of Liloan town, said the program drew inspiration from the province’s Suroy Suroy Sugbo, a tourism promotion and marketing strategy initiated by her mother Gov. Gwendolyn F. Garcia in 2008 and continues until this day.

The tourism chief emphasized that the campaign has successfully repositioned the province as a prime destination not only for its white sand beaches and dive spots but as a tourist magnet for underrated tourism gems which was done through a massive community-based participatory cultural mapping program in all the towns and cities of the province to document their natural and cultural heritage assets.

According to Frasco, the Philippine Experience Program Culture, Heritage, and Arts Caravans is an expansion of the concept to cover all the regions of the country with the aim “ to diversify the cultural tourism product offerings of the country, equalize opportunities across the regions, support the preservation of the country’s heritage, and artistic resources and assets, and instill a sense of pride and patriotism among the Filipino people through a greater appreciation of the country’s inheritance and legacy”.

During the program, DOT Regional Directors gave a glimpse of the Philippine Experience caravans by donning their respective regional traditional attire while showcasing local symbols and icons of the Cordilleras, Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog MIMAROPA, National Capital Region, Bicol, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, o Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Davao region, SOCCSKSARGEN, and CARAGA.