World tourism executives and scores of delegates from across the global travel and tourism sector gathered this week in Manila for the 21st World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit under the theme, “Rediscovering Travel”.
In her speech during the opening ceremonies of the Summit, dubbed as the most influential event in the travel and tourism industry, Philippines Department of Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat expressed optimism about the growth and resurgence of the country’s tourism sector as the Philippines becomes one of the first Asian countries to reopen with the simplest requirements for fully-vaccinated tourists in a bid to revive the pandemic-hit sector.
“With nature revisited, and sustainability reinforced, we move for the normalisation of standards we have put in place for a safe, seamless, responsible, and fun travel,” said Puyat. “We have strived to promote programmes that ensure the return of confidence in traveling. We also saw a significant shift in tourist behaviour and preference, and we seized this opportunity to shift the status quo to regenerative tourism, which seeks to leave a destination in a better state than it was before,” she added.
Puyat was joined on stage by WTTC Chair and Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald and WTTC President and CEO Julia Simpson. With the country’s first-ever hosting of the WTTC Summit held annually, Puyat emphasised that now is a time to revive connections and engagement with people, and how both governments and the private sector can accelerate recovery and sustain growth. She also noted that the Philippines has remained committed to combat the effects of the changing climate and promote green tourism.
According to the WTTC’s projection in its latest Economic Impact Report (EIR), travel and tourism in the Philippines will reach an annual growth rate of 6.7% in the next 10 years, exceeding its overall economy average growth rate of just 5.6 %. The EIR also projects that employment will grow annually by an average of 3% in the same period, generating 2.9 million new jobs that will account for 21.5% of all jobs in the Philippines.
On the opening day, the Philippines was lauded by the global tourism leaders attending the event on site as Simpson, a veteran tourism leader, praised the country’s resilience and road to recovery as it managed to pull off the event in Manila despite the setbacks brought about by the pandemic to the local tourism industry. “Here in Asia-Pacific, the reopening is just beginning. And I have to say I congratulate the Philippines and Minister Bernadette, a nation that showed determination and courage to reignite travel in this region,” Simpson said.
Puyat also served as one of the speakers during the Summit’s first panel discussion titled Redefining Travel in a Changing World, sitting alongside Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths, Marriott International Group President Craig S. Smith, and The Global Rescue Companies CEO Dan Richards to talk about how travel and tourism sector continue to offer incredible experiences and drive social progress while still protecting health, preserving the environment, and responding to a rapidly changing landscape. Smith shared that the sector is well on its way to recovery, sharing his surprise at how fast tourism–in the Philippines–has been bouncing back. “I’ve never seen a recovery this fast: average rates, first time interest rates. Take the Philippines for example. We have five hotels in the Philippines and we have 15 hotels that are being opened. We want to create these jobs. And so with the help of governments like yours, we see a really bright future going forward that this collaboration is going to do,” remarked Smith.