Department of Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat was feisty at the 38th ASEAN Tourism Forum’s ministerial meeting in Ha Long Bay Vietnam as it concluded its 5-day program on the 18th of January 2019.
Clearly espousing President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign on cleaning the environment, Puyat stated during the Tourism Ministers Press Conference that the Philippine government, especially the Department of Tourism and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, is aiming to be a force in sustainable tourism, not only in the country, but to the ASEAN as well.
“For us in the Philippines, it is not the numbers that matter the most but how to balance business opportunities with our social responsibilities,” she said.
It was the first time for Puyat to attend the ATF, now on its 38th year. As the only female tourism minister, she mingled with the other ministers discussing ASEAN tourism matters.
“I am happy because were able to exchange ideas with other tourism ministers. First, on marketing, and second is how they were able to manage their tourist arrivals as we talked on sustainable tourism , at least for the Philippines, we were able to share how we did it in Boracay,” she stated in an exclusive interview with Travel Update Philippines and Hospitality News Philippines.
Puyat also related that Boracay island was closed during the height of the tourist season in April ending in October 2018; and since it opened, past visitors have lauded the resulting clean-up saying that they are seeing the Boracay the way it was thirty years ago.
“What we really care about is the care for future generations because if we do not take care of our environment now, there will be nothing left. In fact, we are going to do the impossible—to clean up Manila Bay. If Boracay had a million in coliform level before we closed it, Manila Bay has 330 million. We have to start now, even in the other provinces like Cebu but we will test the waters first,” Puyat revealed.