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MANILA, Philippines – Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat 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 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,” said Secretary Puyat.

The tourism chief made the assertion during the Special ASEAN Tourism Ministers Meeting held recently. Puyat was among the 12 leaders who attended the meeting held via tele-conference.

Coming from a record breaking 8.26 million foreign arrivals in 2019, the tourism chief noted that Philippine tourism was off to a good start in January 2020 registering about eight percent growth rate in foreign visitor arrivals and nine percent in visitor receipts. The global health crisis, however, caused foregone revenues close to a million dollars just in the first three months of the year.

Secretary Puyat added that, “The events have caused a major shift in the landscapes of the travel industry. Before, food, culture, and immersions influence a travelers choice. Today, safety will be the paramount concern of most, if not all of our visitors.”

he likewise vowed 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 Philippine government has enforced an Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila with lockdowns also enforced in various parts of the country . But Puyat says that 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 the response and mitigation efforts.

“The ASEAN being a diverse mix of peoples from different backgrounds and culture 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 work force, train and retool them for what lies ahead with an enhanced learning opportunity,” enthused Puyat.

She likewise emphasized that the Philippine Department of Tourism (PDOT) will give emphasis to the domestic and intra-ASEAN markets.

“By tapping into our domestic and short haul markets thru 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.”

Published:December 21, 2020

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