PH, Italy mull first tourism cooperation deal

The Philippines and Italian governments look forward to forging their first tourism cooperation agreement, according to Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Christina Frasco who recently met with Italian Minister of Tourism Daniela Garnero Santaché in Rome.

Frasco said Santaché shares Manila’s interest to expand collaboration and “positively received” her proposed accord between their two countries.

“We would like to continue the collaboration that our two countries had before. Also, [from the level of the Minister of Tourism of Italy and Philippines], we share the interest that you shared to have a Memorandum of Understanding of trying to have coordination,” Santaché was quoted as saying.

Frasco said the possible areas of cooperation under the MOU will include the cross-promotion of dive sites in Rome and the Philippines, reinstating direct flights between the two countries, and Italian language training assistance for Filipino tourism workers.

The two top Tourism officials also discussed the potential of Italian and Filipino food and gastronomy as a tourism product.

Italy is a key source market of the Philippines, with nearly 40,000 arrivals in 2019 before the pandemic, based on DOT data,

“We recognize your country as a very important partner for the Philippines in many aspects. We celebrate 75 years of our official relations, and we share with you a love for many things Italian. In 2019, we welcomed almost 40,000 Italians into the Philippines as tourists. We are very interested in increasing that number,” Frasco told her Italian counterpart.

Frasco said she headed to Rome to maximize her official overseas mission as head of the Philippine delegation to the 2022 World Travel Market (WTM) in London. She continued also her listening tour in Italy and sought to create new, and strengthen existing partnerships with Italian travel and tourism players.

Representatives from the aviation sector, the media, travel and tours sectors, and the diving community joined the event in Rome. Among the Italian stakeholders in attendance were  Alpitour, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Go World, Guidda Viaggi, H20, KeL 12, L’Agenzia di Viaggi, Nautica, Qatar Airways, Travel Quotidiano, TTG Italia, Turismo & Attualita, Viaggi del Mappamondo, and VIA Viaggi in Avventura.

Frasco assured the event participants that the Philippines continues to explore ways to further make travel convenient, as well as enhancing the international airports and continuing negotiations with airlines to reinstate suspended routes.

Philippine Embassy in Rome Chargé d’Affaires Nina Cainglet, Vice Consul Nadine Morales, and DOT Undersecretaries Shahlimar Tamano and Verna Buensuceso joined Frasco during the meetings. (With PNA report)