Provincial Tourism Office staff caters to visitors of the provincial goverment's booth during the Philippine Travel Mart expo at the SMX Convention Center of the Mall of Asia in Pasay City, Metro Manila.

Local tourism officials are looking forward to a major boost to Palawan tourism with its participation in the recently concluded Philippine Travel Mart expo held at the SMX convention center of the Mall of Asia in Metro Manila last September 30 to October 2.

Considered as the country’s biggest and longest-running travel exhibition, this year’s 33rd edition of the travel mart, organized by the Department of Tourism (DOT) and Philippine Travel Operators Association (PHILTOA), featured exclusive deals on travel and tour packages, accommodations, airfares, and other tourism-related services of participants from all over the country.

DOT Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco talked about how important PHILTOA’s PTM is to the country’s path to recovery and economic growth during Friday’s opening ceremony.

“The timing of the Philippine Travel Mart could not have been more perfect. As we’ve put it, the 33rd PTM celebrates tourism as it roars again to a better normal. The conduct of this three-day event gives our tour operators a chance to showcase their unique travel packages across our country. It allows enthusiasts to have diverse and affordable options when booking their airfares, accommodations, and other tourism-related services,” Frasco said.

“Indeed, the PTM provides an opportunity for everyone to learn a great deal about what the Philippine tourism industry has to offer in this new era of travel,” she added.

Meanwhile, the Provincial Tourism Promotions Office (PTPO) expressed confidence that the province’s tourism industry is slowly coming back to life, and that the travel mart will give it a big boost.

Arnold Valdez, supervising tourism operations officer and promotions and marketing chief of PTPO, said he can feel that the province’s tourism industry has already recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic. He said small players and investors are once again back with optimism.

“With the reopening of our tourism earlier this year ay nakikita naman nating unti-unti na ring bumabangon particularly yung ating major destinations like Coron, San Vicente, El Nido, and Puerto Princesa of course,” Valdez said.

“So unti-unti na tayong nakakabangon at natutulungan natin yung mga maliliit na tourism players, at maging ang mga investors. Nakakabawi na tayo at nakakatuwang isipin na sa tulong na rin ng national government and other private entities like PHILTOA ay naibabalik na yung ating tourism industry,” he added.

He said PTPO’s participation, together with different local government units in the province at the travel mart, is a chance to further promote the existing as well as new destinations.

“Tayo ay nag paparticipate para ipaalam sa buong Pilipinas kung anong meron tayo sa Palawan, kung ano ang mga products. Nakasama natin dito ang mga tourism offices mula sa bayan ng Narra, Araceli, Roxas, Brooke’s Point, Bataraza and even Kalayaan kung saan, nag-showcase din sila ng kanilang mga produkto and, of course, we want to show the whole country kung ano yung ibig sabihin ng world’s best island. So gusto nating ipagpatuloy yung ating nasimulan at kailangan tayong makilala hindi lang sa Pilipinas kundi maging sa buong mundo,” he said.

Valdez further stated that the turnout of visitors at the PTPO booth during the travel mart also proves that the tourism industry is indeed back.

“Nagulat ako sa turnout ng tao, sa pagpunta nila. Kasi last year meron din pero we were not able to participate but this time, maraming interested na pumunta, looking for Coron, El Nido and even Balabac. So we are happy at napakagandang isipin na people are still interested to travel to Palawan. Napakagandang opportunity yan,” he stated.

Meanwhile, the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) also joined World Tourism Day 2022, in line with the celebration of Tourism Month last September.

With the theme “Rethinking Tourism,” TIEZA emphasized the need to reflect on the impact of the pandemic and rethink tourism strategies that call for cooperation and a shared sense of responsibility.

“The growth of tourism comes with challenges—with the increase in volume of our travelers comes the increase in the need for power, water, and other utilities in destination areas; transport infrastructure; and even digital transformation,” TIEZA said.

It also invited everyone to celebrate and form a sustainable, inclusive, and fun tourism industry.