RP: The most desired ecotourism destination -- PHITEX

By Lynda B. Valencia

MANILA, Sept. 9 (PNA) -- The country has not felt the crunch of the global economic situation.

This statement was proven by the growing amount of tourism opportunities, seen in the recently concluded Philippine Travel Exchange (PHITEX) 2009.

Among the highlights of the event was the Philippines’ status as a most desired eco-adventure destination.

Tourism Secretary Joseph 'Ace' Durano, said “This year’s PHITEX is the biggest and largest yet, with intensive business appointments lined up for the most influential buyers from different market segments."

PHITEX 2009 attracted 205 foreign buyers -- carefully selected and matched with a formidable list of sellers in the country, offering expert market knowledge and appropriate travel services and products.

“In light of the economic scenario and the issues of global warming and climate change, we continue to position the Philippines as an ecotourism destination. Our natural wonders are what we could be proud of the most, with our unspoilt beaches, pristine rainforests, vast mountains, and numerous islands,” Durano added.

He further said, “As we persist in moving the Philippines forward in ecotourism efforts, we enjoin travelers to not only explore the many marvels of the country, but, more importantly, help in preserving them through responsible tourism.”

The markets were all well-represented in the much- awaited event; with key buyers from Asian countries such as India, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, People’s Republic of China (PROC), Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Oceania was also represented with New Zealand and Australia.

European buyers from Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom comprised the biggest delegation.

The fast growing Middle East market was also represented by companies from the United Arab Emirates; and retailers and wholesalers from Canada and the United States were also in the roster of buyers.

Undersecretary for Tourism Planning and Promotions Eduardo Jarque Jr., said, “Despite the seeming global challenges, the country’s tourism industry has remained vibrant, with all sectors working together to stimulate activity and movement.”

Jarque added, “There is no better time to visit the Philippines than now. We have more destinations beyond the usual and more flights around the country.”

Xpert Holidays, a dynamic travel company from Hong Kong which provides personal and professional services to people who are looking for adventurous, exotic and unique holidays, prioritizes the promotion of ecotourism to their segment.

Chi Ping Phoebe Tang, Assistant Operations Manager, said “The Hong Kong market is high on eco-travels, and we respond to this by offering one-of-a-kind tours. We have found that the Philippines appealed to a wide range of clients.”

Tang shared, “The Philippines is a good place to start educating people on responsible travel, where one’s ‘save the earth’ advocacy can truly be nurtured,“ citing El Nido, Palawan, as one of the most beautiful places she’s ever been to, and a destination widely popular with families in Hong Kong.

According to Hoi Kuen Wong, Tourism Market Representative to Hong Kong, Macau, and South China, “The Philippines has steadily and quite speedily gained a following on ecotourism, with beaches and adventure trails all over the islands, such as Palawan, Bohol, and the Cordillera.

He added, “We are confident that the Philippines’ growth in tourism can surpass that of the previous years.”

Walter Sultan, Phitex Secretary-General, said, “This year’s PHITEX has been envisioned as a profitable and fruitful undertaking for both buyers and sellers, to discuss business relations for tourism. Aside from the intensive appointments, we continually enjoin foreign buyers to continue to discover the wonders of the archipelago and experience the warmth of Filipino culture.”

The buyers who attended the PHITEX will be led to post- tours around the country, highlighting eco-adventures in Palawan, Bohol, and Cebu.

Tess Mauricio, OIC for Travel Trade Promotions of the Philippine Convention and Visitors Corporation (PCVC), shared, “We wish to let the foreign buyers experience first-hand the unique adventures in the country, to further allow them to promote the Philippines as a multi-faceted destination.”

PHITEX was held Sept. 2-4 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City. (PNA)