Tourism leaders in the Philippines are taking up the industry’s ability to recover amid the uncertainty brought by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tourism experts from the Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) in partnership with the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) painted an optimistic recovery path during a webinar Tuesday.

In the virtual talk titled “The Future of Travel: A World Travel and Tourism Council Exclusive Panel,” DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat expressed confidence in rebuilding the local tourism industry with the help of WTTC, whose primary initiative is crisis preparedness, management and recovery in the travel and tourism industry.

“The WTTC has worked with the World Economic Forum, the World Health Organisation and key stakeholders in coming up with recommendations to minimise the impact of past pandemics on the industry. Acknowledging this fact, we are definitely certain that their insights will be greatly beneficial to our local tourism players,” she said.

WTTC president and chief executive officer Gloria Guevara Manzo focused on a globally coordinated approach to re-establish effective operations, remove travel barriers and re-open borders.

She underscored the need to add health components and combine the latest technology, and necessary protections and protocols to enhance a seamless traveller journey experience.

She said global protocols or standards defined by the travel and tourism private sector, health experts, and the public sector could help gain back travellers’ confidence.

Marriott International president and managing director of Asia Pacific Craig Smith shared his optimism that the travel industry will “certainly recover” and that Asia will recover faster than any part of the world, though one can expect that it will happen in different segments and geographies.

Foreseeing major uncertainties in global capital flows, Rajawali Property Group chief executive officer Shirley Tan said it was important to secure new investments while putting in effort in asset management, capital preservation, and liquidity management at the same time.

Tan also encouraged Philippine tourism industry players to explore and take advantage of the latest technologies in offering novel and more creative on-site experiences that can attract the younger travel demographic.

DNATA Emirates Group president of group services, Gary Chapman, forecasts a three to four-year recovery period for the airline industry.

He underscored the necessity of setting “consistent and clear standards,” adding it will be a “different world, a different tourism industry in general”.

Meanwhile, Puyat concluded: “There is more to tourism than just counting the numbers of arriving tourists. We are in the business of selling destinations so communities will thrive… The concept of tourism is deeply embedded in our consciousness, and I would like to believe that this is what makes our industry resilient from all the challenges, even the toughest one that we are about to overcome,” she said.

Since April, the DOT has organised online learning courses that aim to help local tourism players become more competitive, with new knowledge, technological advances, and ways to innovate and to be able to cater to a new breed of travellers.

“The challenges brought about by the current health crisis that we are experiencing should not deter us from fulfilling our mission to ensure that the industry is seamless, secure, safe, inclusive and sustainable,” Puyat added.