B&L was in Marco Polo Ortigas to attend a forum which was a collaborative effort of the hotel and the Dept. of Tourism.

Undersecretary Bong Bengzon of the Dept. of Tourism or DOT acknowledged the role of Marco Polo Ortigas in organizing this important event where the DOT was able to discuss the agency's current thrust in promoting the country and give an update on the current state of Philippine tourism.

The other points mentioned by Usec. Bengzon has to do with making Philippine tourism more inclusive and sustainable. This means that benefits from tourism must be scattered across a bigger area. To do this, there should be more focus on emerging destinations and tourism must be developed in the countryside. To achieve sustainability, the DOT must ensure that tourism developmental efforts do not harm the environment and the natural assets are preserved for future generations.

Usec. Bengzon explained that compared to the global average of 4% growth and the growth rate of other Asian countries that are at 7 to 7 per cent, our growth rate of 12.7 per cent is actually remarkable. Add to that the fact that the Philippines is just about the only Asian country that has not suffered a month-to-month decline in the last five years.

Usec. Bengzon stressed the need to continually communicate to the world that the Philippines has magnificent destinations, and we need to ste up our advertising and marketing efforts in key markets around the world.

The DOT official summarized the agency's performance indicators. For one, it has developed masterplans for cruise tourism, medical tourism and ecotourism.

The Dept. of Tourism is now working on creating greater international connectivity by organizing more familiarization tours for airline network planners. The DOT will continue to participate in key aviation events. Usec. Bengzon shared the news that Cebu is in the short list of host cities for Routes Asia 2019 but there is still no word on the decision on this.

The Dept. of Tourism will continue to support charter operators and it is now crafting a media plan to expand its product portfolio.

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