NOTE: This story was first published in The Bohol Chronicle’s Sunday print edition.
In preparation for the re-opening of tourism, some 44 top sellers of scenic destinations in the country arrived at the Bohol Panglao International Airport on Saturday amid strict health protocols starting upon disembarkation from their chartered Air Asia flight from Manila past 11 o ‘clock yesterday morning.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette R. Puyat who made the choice for Bohol to host the 19th Philippine Travel Exchange (PHITEX) will be arriving here on Friday to seal the serious preparations on how to reopen the tourism industry in the country.
The sellers will be on a virtual meeting with hundreds of international buyers who are eager to know how prepared the RP destinations are while the actual reopening of the entry points for tourists will still to be evaluated and assessed amidst the threat of the Coronavirus.
Itching on the new normal, Bohol’s hosting of the 19th PHITEX showcases the debut of Bohol Tourist contact tracing app and the five-day quarantine protocol for visitors.
The 44 delegates arrived yesterday and are now quarantined at Bellevue Resort in Panglao for five days while the travel exchange (Travex) will start on Wednesday.
Among those who arrived yesterday are Usec. Benito Bengzon Jr., Asec. Verna Esmeralda Buensuceso, Osec. Jose Angelo Templonuevo, Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) Chief Operating Officer Maria Anthonette Velasco-Allones, and Program Director Nerissa Del Fierro-Juan.
With them are members of the steering committee, publicity and promotions, technical team, and production team; and officials of tourism sales and marketing entities.
From Bohol Panglao International Airport, they proceeded to Bellevue Resort where “all the delegates were required to have luggage tag with a complete name for each luggage for identification under safety precautionary measures”.
“The delegates stepped off the bus per batch of five to undergo step-by-step safety protocols upon entry at the resort”, with non-valve Facemask, observing physical distancing, and having to go through the disinfection footbath, sanitizer station, temperature check, and Heath Declaration QR Code Scan.
All their luggage were handled by the concierge team with PPEs and subjected to UV disinfection for 30 minutes prior delivery to guestrooms.
At lunchtime, they were briefed on the emergency crisis and completed their Health Declaration QR.
As part of the new normal, they were served plated lunch per table.
The resort ensured that room keys given to them had been disinfected.
Then the delegates proceeded to their assigned room per batch of 16 based on floor room assignment.
At their rooms, they were provided with a welcome setup including sanitation kit and welcome card with emergency contacts.
Their luggages were delivered with sanitized-guarantee-tags.
Their dinner, a Barrio Fiesta theme, was served on a managed buffet.
The technical run of the virtual platform for the sellers is scheduled on Monday morning and the briefing for buyers and sellers via the virtual platform in the afternoon.
Tuesday, September 22, is for an Online Marketing Seminar for the Sellers where they will tackle “Measuring the Return on Marketing Investment” with Prof. Richard Cruz as the speaker.
In the afternoon, they will have the Philippine Product Update Presentation for the Buyers and Sellers where Lawyer Guiller Asido will discuss the “The Philippines Reopens: Welcome Back to our Islands”
Day 1 of the Travex Proper on September 23 will still be at Bellevue Resort, featuring the Loboc Children’s Choir and Sandugo Festival Dancers in the opening of the program.
Tourism Sec. Puyat will deliver her keynote address while Gov. Arthur Yap will welcome the delegates. Sec Puyat will be introduced by Velasco-Allones.
To follow is the business appointments for short-haul markets for Asia and the Pacific.
In the afternoon will be the Business appointments for long-haul markets such as Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa.
It will be followed by webinars, interviews, speed networking, virtual tours, games and contests, videos-on-demand that is available anytime of the day, and presentation of Philippines 360, and Surveys and Polls.
On September 24, sellers, DOT officials, and TPB team in Bohol will have their swab test.
“To ensure that test results are available in time for the post-tour, the Bohol provincial government has arranged the RT-PCR swab test at the earliest possible schedule and as one batch only.
For Day 2 of the Travex Proper, business appointments for short haul markets
(Asia and the Pacific), and for long haul markets (Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa) continue.
September 25 is Day 1 for post-tours for the sellers, devoted for countryside tours prepared by the Bohol Federation of Travel and Tour Operators (BOFETTO) in coordination with Confederation of Bohol Tourists Transport Operators. Top notch DOT accredited tour guides will facilitate the tours of the visiting delegates.
Health protocol will be strict not to allow any delegate whose PCR test results will be positive of Coronavirus to join the tour.
They will first visit the Loay Museum; then proceed to Dimiao to visit the Church, the Ermita Ruins and watch the performance of Children’s Rondalla.
They will then proceed to Loboc for lunch at the Loboc River Cruise with the following optional activities after lunch: water bike, stand up paddling, and swim at Loctob Spring or Busai Falls.
Then, they will proceed to Corella for Tarsier Viewing at the Philippine Tarsier Foundation Sanctuary with short video presentation.
They will go back to Panglao to enjoy the showcase of Bohol Heritage Furniture, crafts and artworks by Boholano artists at Amarela Resort; then back to Bellevue Resort.
The cultural presentation in the evening will feature Loboc Chorale, and Pinoy Christmas inspired
Romulo-Puyat, Gov. Yap, and Velasco-Allones will give the awards to the top-rated buyers and sellers.
Aside from the governor, Provincial Tourism Council Chairman Lucas Nunag will give their messages; while Velasco-Allones will deliver a gratitude message; and Romulo-Puyat will give keynote closing remarks.
Day 2 on September 26 will have three options: Cultural/Heritage Tour, Diving Tour, and Arts and Crafts Tour
For Cultural/Heritage Tour, the visitors will visit the Sto. Nino Church in Cortes, then proceed to Antequera for handicrafts market and product selling of Christmas themed items.
They will proceed to Loon to visit Vita Isola (Farm Tourism Site) for cooking a demo of puto bolanghoy, binagol and sikwate.
They will then proceed for souvenir shopping at Aproniana; then to South Palms Resort with option for house tour and afternoon snacks.
The Dinner will be at the Beachfront of Bohol Beach Club in Panglao.
For the Diving Tour, they can go whale watching and snorkeling/diving in Balicasag Island.
For the Arts and Crafts Tour, they visit Chocolate Hills Tourist Complex with the following optional activities: Bikezip at CHAP and ATV at Sotera.
Loboc River Cruising and swimming at the Busai cascade is also included on the tour and the lunch will be at Loboc River Resort.
The next stop is in Alburquerque for a tour in Santa Monica Church with commentary walk to the museum, and a walk to Craft Village (wood carving, weaving, calamay cooking demo, showcase of Albur crafts).
They will then proceed to Edith Grand Garden for a drive by dragon fruit farm, photo opportunity at the Bougainvilla garden, and visit Kang Caramel Cave.
A farewell/fellowship dinner awaits them at Amorita Resort in Panglao.
They will leave on September 28, departing for Manila by noontime via chartered flight of Air Asia.