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Friday, May 16, 2014

UNWTO Chief in PH for International Meets and Recovery Initiatives


Wazzup Pilipinas!

The Department of Tourism (DOT) is pleased to welcome back Dr. Taleb Rifai, Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), who arrives in the country today (15 May 2014) for a five-day visit.

Secretary General Rifai’s visit starts off with a dinner meeting in Manila with select cabinet secretaries, businessmen, and officials of the Tourism Congress of the Philippines where he will share the importance of tourism in economic recovery and the vital roles that government, businesses, and civil society play in tourism development.

Dr. Rifai will then proceed to Bohol for the presentation and turnover of the Bohol Tourism Recovery Plan, which was jointly prepared by the DOT, UNWTO, Pacific Area Travel Association (PATA), and United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The recovery plan was developed following a series of fact-finding missions and extensive research over a five-month period to help the province recover from the effects of last year's earthquake. It includes a communication strategy to bring back the confidence of domestic and international travellers and of the communities, as well as an assessment of tourism infrastructure and assets that need to be prioritized for rehabilitation by the agencies concerned, international donors, development partners, national and local government agencies, and private sector.

The Bohol Tourism Recovery Plan includes product development for new tourism circuits and long-term governance programs to sustain growth, mitigate risks of crises, and increase the preparedness of tourism destinations. Secretary General Rifai will also be meeting with the local government and private sector officials. The visit ends with a brief technical tour to the Tarsier Sanctuary, Loboc River, Loboc and Alburquerque Churches, and Punta Cruz Watch Tower.

From Bohol, the Secretary General will proceed to Tacloban City, Leyte to confer with officials of other UN organizations, local government unit, and private sector on the proposed recovery plan for the province which was severely damaged by super typhoon Haiyan. He will also inspect possible sites for the DOT and UNWTO RE3START (Recover, Rebuild and Resilience through Sustainable Tourism with climate change Adaptation and Renewable energy for The Philippines) Center. The said project aims to identify tourism-related climate actions, showcase innovative best practices, and promote sustainable livelihood opportunities through entrepreneurship and employment in the tourism industry.

On the fourth day, the UNWTO Chief’s contingent will move to Legazpi City, Albay for the UNWTO 26th Joint Meeting of the Commissions for Asia and the Pacific and South Asia which will focus on air connectivity.

The last leg of his itinerary is the UNWTO-ASEAN International Conference on Tourism and Climate Change, which will be graced by President Benigno S. Aquino III and will be attended by ASEAN National Tourism Organization (NTO) heads; officials of UNWTO, PATA, and USAID; key officials of the executive and legislative branches of Philippine government; tourism industry players; and local government executives.

“We are honored to welcome Secretary General Rifai to the country. We feel privileged to be given this much time considering the Secretary General’s usual full schedule. We thank and recognize the UNWTO’s role in making tourism an effective tool for economic growth, inclusive development, and environmental sustainability by advancing knowledge and tourism policies worldwide. The DOT, together with our partners both in the public and private sectors, commits in full to ensure a productive, memorable, and successful staging of the international meetings and his technical visits. As our tourism campaign invites the rest of the world to discover what the Philippines truly is, this is a chance for us to showcase our best offering and why it’s truly more fun here,” DOT Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez, Jr. said.

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