The Philippine Travel Exchange (PHITEX) hybrid edition opened today at the Bellevue Resort in Panglao Island, led by Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) chief operating officer Maria Anthonette Velasco-Allones and Bohol Governor Arthur Yap with Undersecretary for Tourism Development Benito Bengzon Jr. and Tourism Assistant Secretary for Product and Market Development Verna Buensuceso.

The festive event was marked by a unique vertical concert–the performances by the Loboc Children’s Choir, Loboc Ambassador Band and Kasing Sining Teatro Bol-anon Ensemble were viewed by the delegates from their respective balconies and through livestreaming.

With the theme “Business Unusual,” PHITEX, which runs until September 24, showcases leading players in the tourism industry who will share new strategies, technologies, and marketing innovations that will shape the sector during this pandemic and in the post-COVID world.

Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) chief operating officer Maria Anthonette Velasco-Allones (2nd from left), Bohol Governor Arthur Yap (2nd from right) with DOT Undersecretary for Tourism Development Benito Bengzon Jr.(right) and DOT Assistant Secretary for Product and Market Development Verna Buensuceso (left).

The annual largest travel exchange organized by the government kicks off on a hybrid platform, with 120 foreign buyers from 34 countries virtually meeting 345 seller-delegates from 161 participating tourism enterprises and groups across the country.

“We decided to push through with PHITEX this year, and challenged ourselves to find ways by which to efficiently and safely provide the B2B platform, in a way that responds to the diverse needs of our buyers and sellers, noting time zone differences while endeavoring to showcase the new normal travel protocols in the province of Bohol,” said Puyat, who keynoted the opening ceremony on September 23 and who will also keynote the closing ceremony on September 25.

PHITEX is highlighted by the Travel Exchange (TRAVEX), a series of exclusive business-to-business virtual appointments between Philippine sellers and foreign buyers. The online market space was customized to feature each company’s range of products and services in high definition videos, digital product collaterals, and one-on-one chat rooms for conducive networking with prospective buyers.

The virtual platform also features on-demand webinars and roundtable discussions, “Philippines 360”, a series of online games and quizzes on Philippine arts and culture, a specially curated virtual tour of Manila, dubbed as the “Philippines’ Capital of Fun” and links to Philippine tourism films, cooking and travel videos, among others.

Puyat reiterated that Panglao, Bohol is an ideal destination as a travel bubble, as part of the DOT’s thrust to gradually reopen domestic tourism in areas with very low or zero-COVID cases. She also acknowledged the value of partnership with local government units (LGUs) and the private sector.

“We are grateful for the collaboration and support of Governor Yap, the provincial government of Bohol, and our private sector partners who have put in so much efforts in recalibrating their tourism products, and ensuring adherence to our issued new normal safety, health and sanitation protocols.”

PHITEX is organized by the TPB, an attached agency of the DOT, as part of its mandate to market and promote the Philippines domestically and internationally as a preferred tourism and MICE destination that prides itself with diverse and fun travel experiences.