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UN body commends Phl tourism efforts

Donnabelle L. Gatdula - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has commended the Philippines for sustaining growth in the tourism sector despite the slew of calamities that hit the country last year.

In a statement, UNWTO secretary-general Taleb Rifai noted that despite two major natural disasters, tourism in the Philippines saw significant growth in 2013 with international tourist arrivals registering a double-digit increase to reach 4.7 million.

He also noted that the country’s international tourism receipts grew 15 percent to reach $4.7 billion.

During a recent visit to the Philippines, Rifai went to Bohol province to review the recovery progress following the destructive 2013 earthquake.

Rifai also delivered the Bohol Tourism Recovery Plan (BTRP), a roadmap to support the recovery of Bohol’s tourism sector, which was severely struck by the earthquake in October 2013. 

Developed by UNWTO and supported by the Department of Tourism (DOT) of the Philippines, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), the BTRP includes a global marketing strategy for Bohol, as well as an assessment of what tourism infrastructure and assets need to be prioritized by tourism stakeholders during the recovery process. 

In addition, the plan provides inputs to develop new tourism products in line with Bohol’s positioning as an eco-cultural destination.

“The Philippine people were tested in times of difficulty and they have earned the respect of the whole world by demonstrating greatest courage and confidence,” Rifai said.

“Tourism is one of the best assets for them on their way to recovery and sustainable growth. UNWTO is very pleased to be working alongside the Philippines, the US government and PATA to make tourism a tool for recovery and sustainable livelihoods here in Bohol,” he added.

Rifai also visited areas in Tacloban which were affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda in November 2013. 

He said UNWTO, in collaboration with USAID and the UN Development Programme (UNDP),  is in the process of finalizing projects which will enrich the tourism experience in Tacloban through a Learning Centre on Climate Change and strengthen the local economy by including tourism as an alternative source of income.

The DOT, for its part, said the BTRP was developed following a series of fact-finding missions and extensive research over a five-month period. 

DOT said the document, touted as Bohol’s tourism recovery “bible,” contains strategies for marketing the province to the global community, as well as the development of new tourism products that will strengthen Bohol’s position as an eco-cultural destination.

BOHOL

BOHOL TOURISM RECOVERY PLAN

CLIMATE CHANGE

DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM

DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME

INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

LEARNING CENTRE

PACIFIC ASIA TRAVEL ASSOCIATION

RIFAI

TOURISM

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