Eastern Visayas rugged charm in focus in trade fair


MORE than 1,500 visitors registered for the first-ever hybrid Regional Trade Fair for Eastern Visayas, which closed on Sunday.

The Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), which staged the four-day event in Tacloban, Leyte, said in a news statement some P19 million in business leads were generated and will be pursued by participants. Some participants were able to close sales worth P53,000.

With the theme Infinite Escapes: Eastern Visayas, the event featured a tourism webinar, a one-day business-to-business (B2B) session, and live selling from business to consumer (B2C). Onsite activities were held at the Summit Hotel in Tacloban.

In her keynote address at the opening ceremony on August 5, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat said, “Throughout the one-and-a-half year of our pandemic journey, we shifted our efforts to adapt to the emerging challenges and the developments that go with them within and around the tourism industry. This event will help with the continued promotion of our destinations in the various regions while adapting digitization as one of the most effective ways to bridge us to the new normal.”

The regional trade fair is a program of TPB that aims to promote and sell domestic tour packages by showcasing the best regional products and services in partnership with regional offices of the Department of Tourism (DOT), local government units, and the private sector. The TPB is the marketing arm of the DOT.

Leyte is currently under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), but Romulo Puyat said, health and safety protocols were strictly followed for the event’s onsite participants.

Eastern Visayas is made up of the provinces of Biliran, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Northern Samar, Samar, and Southern Leyte. The region is relatively under the radar of most tourists, and is mainly popular among World War II veterans commemorating the landing of Gen. Douglas MacArthur in the Leyte Gulf on Oct. 20, 1944, which kicked off the campaign to thwart the Japanese military forces from the Philippines. The historic event is depicted in the MacArthur Leyte Landing Memorial National Park in Palo, Leyte.

In a previous interview with the BusinessMirror, Romulo Puyat said the restoration of the Balangiga Bells to the belfry of the Saint Lawrence the Martyr Church in Balangiga town, Eastern Samar in December 2018, would spark renewed interest in Eastern Visayas.

Prior to the pandemic, Eastern Visayas received 1.6 million in overnight domestic travelers and some 52,000 foreign guests in 2019. The region is slowly becoming known for its rugged landscapes, surfing-friendly coastline, caves, and waterfalls.

“While the end of the pandemic remains uncertain, your shared optimism inspires us to face our day-to-day challenges,” said Romulo Puyat at the Tacloban event. “The DOT shall continue to ensure safe travel for everyone. With your continued support, we will pave the way for our tourism to bounce back for the sake of those who depend on it for their livelihood, for those who need to travel for their sanity, and for the tourism communities to gradually recover from the adverse impact of this pandemic,” she underscored.

The next regional trade fair is slated in November at the Zamboanga Peninsula, with DOT Region 9 as host.

The TPB is preparing for four more hybrid travel trade fair events for the rest of the year such as the Philippine Travel Exchange in September, the Philippine MICE Convention in October, the Tourism and Technology Forum, and the World Travel and Tourism Council Global Summit in December.

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