MANILA, May 17 — The Department of Tourism on Thursday welcomed United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Secretary General Taleb Rifai who arrived in Manila.
Secretary General Rifai’s visit will start off with a dinner meeting in Manila with select Cabinet members of the Aquino administration, businessmen, and officials of the Tourism Congress of the Philippines.
In the meeting, he will share the importance of tourism in economic recovery and the vital roles that government, businesses, and civil society play in tourism development.
Rifai will 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.
It also includes an assessment of tourism infrastructures 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.
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 units, and private sector on the proposed recovery plan for the province which was severely damaged by super typhoon “Yolanda” last November.
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. (from PNA report by Azer N. Parrocha)