Philippines lays groundwork for Covid, typhoon recovery

The Philippines is stepping into 2022 with abundant hope for global travel resumption, despite ongoing Omicron variant challenges and damages by super typhoon Rai in December 2021.

Speaking to TTG Asia, Maria Anthonette Velasco-Allones, chief operating officer of Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) Philippines, said there were telltale signs of an unhurried renewal of domestic and international tourism.

Velasco-Allones: TPB has succeeded in reinventing its mandate of tourism promotions by exploring support activities that indirectly contribute to promoting tourism

With the Omicron surge expected to peak by end-January and the Philippines’ successful vaccination and booster exercises, Velasco-Allones anticipates that the increase in domestic trips in the last quarter of 2021 would continue into the new year.

She revealed that the country’s Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging and Infectious Diseases has approved the entry of foreign nationals to the Philippines by February 16, 2022, subject to certain requirements.

In terms of remedying the destruction of super typhoon Rai, which had hit top destinations such as Cebu, Bohol, Palawan and Siargao, Velasco-Allones said “ongoing efforts to rebuild or rehabilitate key infrastructures and support recovery initiatives in these places will surely pave the way for these destinations to be ready to welcome back visitors”.

Meanwhile, TPB continues to promote domestic tourism in key destinations as well as diverse destinations such as the Cordillera region for mountain tourism, Baguio City for culture and food trips, Boracay for sand and beach, and newly-calibrated domestic tourism circuits and routes.

Changes in the tourism landscape has compelled TPB to adapt its roles to ensure that its marketing programmes and strategies remain relevant, effective and efficient.

TPB is strengthening its role as facilitator of services for tourism stakeholders. For instance, the TPB Membership Programme has expanded by 488 per cent, resulting in a more engaged community that can respond quickly, as seen in post-Rai relief drive, and collaborate on formulating TPB’s strategic marketing programme and other matters.

Other initiatives include leveraging technology and digital platforms to sustain digital marketing and promotions, and deploying a Special Contingency Fund to support initiatives such as provision of hygiene kits and subsidising swab test costs to boost domestic tourism.

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