First Leyte tourism forum brings renewed optimism, fresh commitments

Photos courtesy of Frances Ann Petilla
Photos courtesy of Frances Ann Petilla

LEYTE provincial government officials have expressed renewed optimism in its tourism industry following the “resounding success” of its recently-concluded first tourism forum that gathered over 500 tourism stakeholders, industry experts, and government leaders from all over the province.

“It's a privilege in helping the Province of Leyte in bringing together tourism stakeholders from both the government and the private sectors, tourism champions from all over Leyte that will strengthen the Leyte tourism industry,” said former Palo town mayor now Leyte Provincial Tourism Office consultant Frances Ann Petilla.

“As I give my humble assistance to the provincial tourism in developing tourism strategies, I believe that by working together, we can create a vibrant and sustainable tourism industry that will benefit everyone,” she added.

Through its theme “Empowering Leyte tourism: A gathering of ideas, opportunities and solutions," tourism experts and stakeholders had the opportunity to talk about trends and technology in tourism that included empowering local stakeholders, capacity building and accreditation standards, and sustainable tourism.

Other topics were also focused on product development for rural destinations: community based approach, connecting suppliers to tourists through technology, preliminary planning guide for tourism stakeholders and provincial plans on tourism accreditation.

“The only way you can succeed in having good tourism is when you know what the people are looking for,” said Leyte Governor Jericho Petilla during the gathering at the Leyte Academic Center in Palo.

He also welcomed the discussion on the different strategies to attract more tourists to the province.

Aside from the governor, the keynote speakers and resource speakers during the event also included Department of Tourism (DOT) Undersecretary Ferdinand Jumapao, DOT-Eastern Visayas Director Karina Rosa Tiopes, Professor/Consultant of UP-Asian Institute of Tourism Dr. Maricel Gatchalian Badilla, former Barugo Mayor Macel Avestruz, Dr. John Paolo Rivera of Dr. Andrew Tan Center for Tourism and Traveloka Representative Christian Magno.

Leyte’s unique products were also displayed during the event for “potential business partnerships.”

“About this month, three years ago, talks about coronavirus disease being a global health concern was becoming louder. Then on the 16 of March, a lockdown was imposed nationwide. This marked the start of over two years of travel restrictions to difficult years for the tourism industry in Eastern Visayas, in the country, and in the world. Today, the travel and tourism industry is almost back to normal,” Tiopes recalled.

Meanwhile, Leyte Provincial Tourism Officer Jescyn Kate Nierras-Ramos expressed confidence that the tourism forum “will be our first step in working as one in building networks and future projects and endeavors.”

“The success of this first forum bodes well for the future of the tourism industry and the potential for continued collaboration and innovation,” the provincial tourism office said in a separate statement.

The Leyte Tourism Office earlier announced that they are “thrilled” and “ready” to welcome more visitors once again after the pandemic has restricted tourist arrivals in the province the past three years.

“We are very excited to show off all that our province has to offer and take pride of our hospitality to the world. Leyte is truly a very special place, with its unique beaches, lush jungles, and rich cultural heritage. From the iconic MacArthur Landing Memorial National Park to the breathtaking landscapes of Lake Danao, there is something for everyone to enjoy and experience,” it said.

“We have taken all necessary precautions to ensure the health and safety of our guests, and we are confident that you will have a memorable and safe experience during your visit. Our people are eager to share their customs, traditions, and delicious cuisine with you. And we are sure that you will be charmed by the warm hospitality of the people Leyte,” it added. (SunStar Philippines)


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