DOT Sec. Berna Romulo-Puyat talks to MY RANGGO
MY RANGGO was delighted to have the opportunity to interview DOT Sec. Berna Romulo-Puyat during the 27th PTAA Travel & Tours Expo 2020, last February 7-9.
The Expo was held at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia (MOA) and the theme was “More>Real”
Also present during our interview, was Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTTA) President, Ritchie Tuaño.
MY RANGGO: We were wondering if you have the latest tourist arrivals figures for last year?
DOT Sec Puyat: Well of course, we believe that we have already surpassed our goal for 2019. We’re confident of that [although] we don’t have our December figures. But we’re confident we’ve reach at least 8.1 million. Our National Tourism Development Plan target is 8.2 million but I’m actually confident that we’re going to reach the 8.2 million target. That’s for 2019.
Domestic tourism we’ll probably get [the figures] around March or April 2020, from the Philippine Statistics Authority. I’m also confident that will be higher than [2018’s] 111 million, because when we reached 111 Million Boracay was closed for 6 months. Last year there were no destinations closed, so I’m confident we will exceed 111 Million
MY RANGGO: Congratulations on that, ma’am.
Which Philippines destinations are in the Top 5 for those arrivals?
DOT Sec Puyat: Number 1 is now Boracay, Number 2 is Cebu, Metro Manila pa rin, Cordilleras. I think [that’s what we know[ so far, but number 1 is really Boracay, and Siargao [features] yes.
Other Reporter: Ma’am for the nCoV, do we have any updates regarding the effects of it on recent arrivals?
DOT Sec Puyat: It’s very hard to mention the effects but right now what we’re doing together with our tourism partners, like the PTAA and TCP (Tourism Congress of the Philippines). We were working on it even before the temporary ban. We have already provided all the resorts and hotels with guidelines. So we were already proactive with the private sector, very proactive with the private sector. They already knew the guidelines, how to treat and respond, just in case anyone had nCoV.
The temporary ban, we are very happy that the private sector is very supportive of the temporary ban, we have their full support, and the private sector agrees safety first more than tourism numbers.
Obviously, our [Tourism Arrival] numbers will be affected but actually right after this we have a meeting with all the top tourism private sector leaders on what we can do. Because Korea is still number 1 and we have the US and we have other markets. It’s important for the DOT together with the private sector to tell all our other markets that it’s safe here in the Philippines.
We are also strengthening our domestic tourism. As we speak, hotels and airlines have agreed to lower their prices. I spoke with Lance Gokongwei (Cebu Pacific) and Mikee Romero (Air Asia), they’re all very supportive.
Because everyone, what’s really nice with our tourism industry, we all help each other. Even if we don’t speak to each other, it seems like we have. No one is negative and we all help each other.
MY RANGGO: Is there any rehabilitation in plan already, for Taal?
DOT Sec Puyat: Taal is still at Level Number 3, once it normalizes [we will look at a rehabilitation plan] but we are ready for that. We will need to coordinate with the NEDA (National Economic Development Authority.
MY RANGGO: Is there a plan to capitalize on the recent World Travel Awards, which awarded the Philippines The World’s Leading Dive Destination Award?
DOT Sec Puyat: We have been working on that actually, with the PHIDEX (Philippine International Dive Expo). It’s the first time we won the Best Dive Destination, at the World Travel Awards, so we are still focusing on Dive Tourism. Nothing has been cancelled, we just have to focus on our marketing efforts, look to emerging destinations and continue with our marketing efforts.
MY RANGGO: We’re really happy with the new adverts from the Dept of Tourism. Will there be any support for the MIMMAROPA areas?
DOT Sec Puyat: If we show all the regions, we might still be showing videos until now. But for the first time the Department of Tourism has made videos for all the regions. This year we’re going to be making videos for all the Provinces too. The DOT will be the ones doing it. Of course, I would never forget MIMMAROPA.
MY RANGGO: In connection with this event (PTAA), this Expo is a very big help to our tourism industry.
DOT Sec Puyat: Oh definitely, very kasi this (PTAA) started in 2018 and it’s still continuing, full support, with great sponsors and it’s very good to hear that no one backed out, in light of recent events (Corona Virus 19). Everyone is full support.
MY RANGGO: One last thing, would you like to this opportunity to invite the public to visit the PTAA Expo?
DOT Sec Puyat: I would like to invite everybody to please go to PTAA, starting tomorrow. Ang gaganda ng mga booths, I’m so amazed, ang daming mga discounts, budget and talagang. You’ll even discover things you have never seen before , so you should come. It’s like travelling all around the Philippines, and all around the world, in one day!
MY RANGGO: Thank you very much.
Visit our article on the 27th PTTA Travel & Tours Expo 2020 here