Thursday, December 5, 2019

Enriching the tourism industry through knowledge-sharing

L-R: Arnold Gonzales, TPB DCOO; San Jeet, DOT market representative for India; Marie Venus Tan, TPB COO; Carlos Mori Rodriguez, EON Stakeholders Relations Group chief innovation officer; and Mohd Akil Bin Mohd Yusof, MATTA deputy president

The Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), the marketing and promotions arm of the Department of Tourism, recently gathered industry stakeholders, tour operators, hotels and resorts, and members of the academe for a one-day discussion on the latest trends in tourism marketing and strategies on how to provide mature and emerging markets an optimal experience to make them stay longer and spend more.

The seminar, themed “Philippine Tourism: Trailblazing Responsible Travel and Inclusive Growth,” is part of this year’s Philippine Travel Exchange (PHITEX), the biggest travel trade event in the country with over 200 local sellers and 200 international buyers participating.  

Joining the impressive roster of speakers were Thomas Graham, co-founder of MAD (Make A Difference) Travel, who talked about how sustainable tourism is changing the lives of people in communities; Carlos Mori Rodriguez, chief innovation officer of EON The Stakeholders Relations Group, who shared insights about the new breed of OFWs in the UAE; and San Jeet, the Department of Tourism market representative for India, who discussed the needs of the Indian Market.

Also sharing their expertise were Donald Patrick Lim, country chief executive officer of Dentsu Aegis Network Philippines, who shared shared how the digital age is changing the tourism landscape; Mohd Akil Bin Mohd Yusof, the deputy president of the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) and Nelly Nuezca Dillera, deputy executive director of the Philippine Trade Training Center, shared points on how to cater to the Muslim market.

“With the diversification of UAE industries, there is a growing number of Filipinos who work as professionals in industries outside oil and construction. Unfortunately, these new breed of OFWs with disposable income prefer to travel to other destinations than tour the Philippines,” shares Rodriguez.

By 2020, at least 30-32 million Indians are expected to travel overseas for leisure. According to Jeet, “To capture a chunk of that market, industry stakeholders in the Philippines should customize tours that focus on unique and luxurious experiences, especially since these are spending tourists who are willing to splurge on quality accommodations, sightseeing, relaxation, and shopping.”

For Graham, he sees great opportunity in sustainable tourism as it meets both profitability and viability. “There are a growing number of tourists who are starting to prioritize experiences over material possessions. Sustainable tourism is gaining traction because learning about other cultures, connecting with people, and giving back to local communities provide a one-of-a-kind, meaningful experiences.”

The educational seminar concluded with back-to-back Halal-related talks where Yusof recommended ways to make establishments and tourist sites in the Philippines Muslim-friendly, while Dillera complemented this by sharing the government’s efforts to help local businesses make their products halal-compliant.  

In closing, TPB COO Venus Tan said, “PHITEX is organized, not only to provide a platform to connect buyers and sellers, but also to build the industry through education and insightful discussions among stakeholders. Hopefully, with these insightful talks, we are able to inspire and encourage them to develop tourism products that would provide unique, meaningful experiences for our visitors, which in turn would make them stay longer, spend more, and be avid ambassadors of the country.”

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