SIXTEEN-YEARS after hosting the Philippine Travel Exchange (Phitex), the event has returned to Cebu, and organizers said the province’s status as a premier tourism destination will experience a significant boost with its hosting this year.
This as Phitex gathers 168 seller delegates from the Philippines, representing 122 companies, who pitched the country’s finest tourism attractions, establishments, services, and products to a global audience of nearly 100 buyers from 19 different countries during a business-to-business (B2B) matching session on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023, at the Fili Hotel of Nustar Cebu at South Road Properties in Cebu City.
Phitex offers delegates a chance to experience the beauty of Philippine tourism destinations through pre- and post-familiarization tours in Cebu and Dumaguete City in Negros Oriental, Metro Manila and Rizal, Cagayan de Oro-Bukidnon-Davao in Mindanao, Coron in Palawan, Boracay-Romblon, Pampanga-La Union, and Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur.
Phitex 2023 is the largest government-led B2B travel trade event. This is the first full face-to-face event since the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.
Organized by the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) Philippines, the marketing and promotions arm of the Department of Tourism, the event started on Tuesday, Sept. 19, and will conclude on Thursday, Sept. 21.
TPB chief operating officer Maria Margarita Montemayor Nograles said Phitex, through the years, has “delivered outcomes of paramount importance to the Philippine tourism industry.”
She hopes this year’s Phitex will exceed last year’s figures of P172,602,851 in business sales (conducted in a hybrid format), which exceeded P46 million in 2019 and P94.8 million in 2018.
“Beyond statistics, it has nurtured alliances, created large prospects, and ignited possibilities,” said Nograles during the opening ceremony.
“Beyond the remarkable offerings of our distinguished Philippine sellers, we’ve arranged post tours and compassing visits to diverse community-based tourism sites. These excursions will spotlight the significance of grassroots initiatives involving local textiles, culinary treasures, and eco-tourism activities,” she added.
Nograles further told the delegates: “Through these encounters, intertwined with commerce, may you all find inspiration to craft your own narrative of success, one that harmonizes prosperity with preservation.”
Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco hopes the B2B matching and networking activities will contribute to the Philippine tourism landscape and economy.
“The inclusivity of this program beckons international buyers to explore the rich diversity that our country has to offer,” said Frasco.
Frasco announced that as of Sept. 19, the Philippines had already received over 3.8 million international visitors, reflecting over 80 percent of the targets set by the DOT for 2023. Tourism receipts as of August 2023 also stood at P316.9 billion.
The Tourism chief also headlined the country’s enhanced tourism branding “Love the Philippines” before the community of foreign buyers.
She told them that the “enhanced value proposition for the country focuses on continuing to support the fun and adventure that we have thus far articulated to the world, but also introducing to the world the many assets of Philippine tourism from our rich mega biodiversity to our heritage, our culture, our food, our various plethora of activities as well as the work of our creative communities.”
She also briefed the industry players and stakeholders on the various programs of the DOT in the areas of connectivity, infrastructure, and digitalization, among others.
“In 2024, you can expect more investment in tourism, roads, especially leading towards emerging tourism destinations,” Frasco said.