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The Department of Tourism on Thursday (Mar. 21) extended its full support to the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) International Conference on Women in Travel, as the three-day conference successfully opened in the captivating tourist destination of Bohol.

Delivering her keynote message at the preeminent event, Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco welcomed hundreds of speakers and delegates from the Philippines and all over the world, including Hong Kong SAR, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“I would like to express my profound gratitude to PATA for its partnership with the Philippines in the inaugural holding of the International Conference on Women in Travel. Holding this conference in the Philippines is timely, especially here where over 50 percent of the workforce of our country is composed of women, and here in our region in the Asia Pacific, where nearly 50 percent of the tourism industry is composed of women. We recognize the importance of this conference focusing on empowering women, tourism professionals, promoting gender equality, fostering leadership stories, successes, and opportunities,” Secretary Frasco said.

“Our appreciation goes to the Philippines Department of Tourism for their hosting of this inaugural conference and generous support, as well as for their commitment to gender equality and development,” PATA CEO Noor Ahmad Hamid said, adding that the event “represents a pivotal moment in our industry, as we come together to celebrate the invaluable contributions of women and address the critical challenges they face in the travel and tourism industry.”

“I would like to express my gratitude once again, to Your Excellency, Secretary of the Department of Tourism, for your leadership, your kindness, and for being with us today, and to each and every one of you for your dedication to this important cause that the PATA strongly believes. I can assure you that the PATA International Conference on Women in Travel will not be the first time, we will take this to the PATA [frontline event] and we will definitely continue to organize this event globally and for many years to come. And that is because we love the Philippines,” he added.

DOT’s commitment to gender equality promotion

In her keynote remarks, Secretary Frasco shared before delegates her fair share of challenges of juggling official duties as a woman leader and a mother of four children, from her tenure as a three-term Mayor of the Municipality of Liloan in Cebu amid the COVID-19 pandemic and Supertyphoon Odette that hit Cebu in 2021, and now as Secretary of the DOT and the youngest member of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.’s cabinet upon the President’s invitation in 2022.

“I recognize that countless women must similarly confront the challenge of juggling work with caregiving responsibilities, and unfortunately, many of these significant sacrifices go unnoticed and underappreciated,” Secretary Frasco said.

“Which is why, ever since I came into the fold of the DOT, it became my mission to ensure that the efforts of the Department must not only be focused on achieving numbers and targets, rather, it must also focus on ensuring the well-being of our workforce, dedicated to building a tourism industry that ensures that we put tourism workers at the forefront of the government’s priorities, particularly, women, who play a pivotal role in shaping our tourism landscape—from our female guides, all the way to our female officials. I sought to leverage the feminist values that guided me as Mayor: sensitivity, nurturance, humanity, and love, and extend them to a national scale, ensuring that the tourism sector serves not only as a vehicle of economic prosperity, but also as a force for promoting human dignity,” the DOT chief added.

Towards this direction, the DOT, for the first time ever, has appointed Tourism Integrates, Supports, and Minds Women’s Rights and Child Safety (TourISM WoRCS) Officers across the regions in the country to ensure that the Philippines “remains a woman- and child-safe destination”, with the Tourism Worcs manual soon to be rolled out among the Department’s various operational units to equip them with the knowledge and tools to effectively combat sexual harassment, trafficking, and gender-based violence within the sector.

Furthermore, in a bid to herald the unique and world-renowned brand of Filipino hospitality and invest in the Filipino workforce, Secretary Frasco shared the DOT’s attainment of its target of training 100,000 workers on the Filipino Brand of Service Excellence (FBSE) program in 2023. The DOT surpassed this goal, having trained 127,125 workers trained on the FBSE last year. Of this, 70,208 or 55.2% of the trained workforce are women.

“This milestone sets a resoundingly optimistic tone for our industry, affirming our long-held belief that women can and should access meaningful opportunities within the tourism sector,” Secretary Frasco said.

The DOT has also made significant strides in advancing equality in the Philippine tourism industry by ensuring that tourism products and infrastructure projects prioritize gender sensitivity. This is manifested in the Department’s establishment of Tourist Rest Areas (TRAs) across the country to enhance the overall tourist experience, with each of the TRA having features such as clean restrooms, souvenir centers for local vendors to sell their goods, and breastfeeding stations dedicated for lactating mothers.

To support employees of the DOT, especially working mothers, the Department inaugurated a Child-Minding Center at the Central Office. “Here, you’ll see employees working and be assured that their children are entrusted to a safe and nurturing environment, free-of-charge, with licensed daycare teachers, while they are at work,” the DOT chief said.

Secretary Frasco further shared that in the DOT, women comprise an impressive 56 percent of the workforce. Notably, 62 percent of women hold official positions, and the majority of the Department’s Undersecretaries are women.

Pointing out critical challenges faced by the tourism sector globally, Secretary Frasco noted the importance of enhancing sex-disaggregated data in the industry.

To address this, the DOT is working towards establishing a comprehensive sex-disaggregated database that will serve as a cornerstone for developing evidence-based policies and programs contributing to gender equality. Furthermore, it will help the DOT in monitoring progress towards its gender equality objectives, and tracking disparities in access, participation, and outcomes between men and women.

“By harnessing the power of data, we will be able to identify areas where gender imbalances persist and use this information to inform our policy and decision-making especially as we endeavor to provide more tourism opportunities for our destinations all over the country,” Secretary Frasco explained.

Founded in 1951, PATA is a not-for-profit membership-based association that serves as a catalyst for the responsible development of travel and tourism to, from and within the Asia Pacific region.


Philippines Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco delivers her keynote remarks at the inaugural Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) International Conference on Women in Travel on Thursday (Mar. 21) in Panglao Island, Bohol, Philippines.


Philippines Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco delivers her keynote remarks at the inaugural Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) International Conference on Women in Travel on Thursday (Mar. 21) in Panglao Island, Bohol, Philippines.

Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco (right) with Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) CEO Noor Ahmad Hamid (left) during the inaugural PATA International Conference on Women in Travel hosted by the Department of Tourism (DOT) from 20-22 March 2024 in Bohol, Philippines.

Harnessing the power of unity and love, officials of the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) together with global women industry leaders join forces in advocating for gender equality at the first PATA International Conference Women in Travel held at the BE Grand Resort in Bohol, Philippines on Thursday (Mar. 21).

Over 200 tourism leaders and stakeholders from across the globe unite in love for the Philippines, celebrating gender equality and women empowerment at the inaugural Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) International Conference on Women in Travel in Panglao Island, Bohol on 21 March 2024. Hosted by the Department of Tourism (DOT), the conference emphasizes the essential role of gender equality and inclusivity in shaping a sustainable and resilient tourism sector.

Published:March 23, 2024

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