Breaking Travel News interview: Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, minister of tourism, the Philippines
Voters at the World Travel Awards have recognised the Philippines with a duo of top titles.
Here Breaking Travel News chats with minister of tourism, Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, to find out how the trophies will aid the recovery of the sector
Breaking Travel News: Congratulations, the Philippines has been honoured as the best in the business by voters at the World Travel Awards - honoured with the title of World’s Leading Dive Destination. How does it feel to have won?
Bernadette Romulo-Puyat: We are incredibly grateful for the recognition given to the Philippines’ dive sites and the beautifully-restored heritage sites of Intramuros.
These accolades further inspire and push us to bring world-class tourism, especially now that we are gradually reopening our attractions to domestic tourists.
BTN: As you mentioned, it is a double success, with Intramuros – a selection of Spanish-era landmarks in the centre of Manila – also recognised as the World’s Leading Tourist Attraction by voters. What is on offer here to travellers?
BRP: We are proud of Intramuros as it serves as a monument to the Philippines’ Hispanic period.
It houses colourful murals and iconic spots such as the Manila Cathedral, Casa Manila, Baluarte de San Diego and Fort Santiago.
IA restores the walled city with extensive renovations such as bright capiz lamps installed in monuments and trees, colourful murals, and new sites, such as the dungeon and cleaned-up and fortified military structures, as a tribute to the country’s historic Hispanic period.
Tourists can also pay a visit to the Museo de Intramuros to appreciate the different religious and colonial art through statues of saints, large paintings, and carved wooden altarpieces.
With the pandemic, the Intramuros Administration has championed creating digital materials that can be accessed by the public and further highlights these cultural treasures of the Philippines.
BTN: When we spoke earlier in the year, there were hopes the tourism sector may be able to reopen as we move into 2021. Has the arrival of a potential vaccine for Covid-19 accelerated the proposals?
BRP: We are hearing news that drug manufacturers are nearing completion of their vaccine trials, pushing the world ever so closer to the long-awaited end of this pandemic.
But until then, we are still at the exploratory stage with nearby Asian countries for travel bubbles in 2021.
In the meantime, because of the unpredictability of the Covid-19 situation around the world, we are focusing our efforts on restarting domestic tourism and creating safe travel zones within our own country.
While international tourism does have a significant impact on the industry, you may be surprised to find out that domestic tourism accounts for the majority of tourism expenditure in the Philippines: 10.8 out of tourism’s 12.7 per cent contribution to our GDP is from domestic tourism.
Breaking Travel News: How useful will the World Travel Awards be in promoting the Philippines as the country does reopen to travellers?
BRP: World-renowned recognitions like the World Travel Awards prove how serious we are in developing our tourism.
It will help us further attract tourists, especially those who have not been to our beautiful islands, once we reopen the country.
We will continue to enhance our attractions and experiences to make them safer, innovative and more fun.
Find out more about visiting the Philippines on the official website.