Tagbilaran, Bohol (May 16, 2014) – United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Secretary General Dr. Taleb Rifai arrives here today to lead the turnover rites of the tourism recovery roadmap for the province, an output of a multi-sectoral collaboration to help the province recover from the effects of last year's earthquake.
The Bohol Tourism Recovery Plan (BTRP) is a collaborative project of the Department of Tourism (DOT), the United States Agency for International Development under its Advancing Philippine Competitiveness Project (USAID-COMPETE), UNWTO and the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA). It was developed following a series of fact-finding missions and extensive research over a five-month period.
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.
The strategies will be a guide book for Bohol not only in bringing back local and international tourists, but also in further expanding its tourism base.
“Hosting these two major international events brings honor to our country and a wonderful opportunity to express our profound gratitude and appreciation to donors and supporters. It is also an opportunity to show the world how Bohol has quickly moved towards recovery, tourism-wise, with the technical assistance from UNWTO, USAID and PATA. Bohol has bounced back quickly judging from the rising travel statistics this year. We are optimistic that Tacloban will do the same as a tourism recovery plan is soon to be implemented,” DOT Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez, Jr. said.
“It also warms our heart to share that no less than Dr. Rifai himself has volunteered to come early prior to the meetings to engage in the recovery-related activities despite his busy schedule. It truly shows his genuine concern for our country’s tourism recovery, the same commitment as he would show when addressing other member countries’ crises. Through the Climate Change conference, we can learn so much and agree to institute protocols and best practices, so that all countries in the world, more so the less prepared, would be better equipped to deal with these types of challenges,” the Secretary added.
Dr. Rifai will lead the turnover of the the BTRP to Gov. Edgar Chatto in the presence of national and local tourism officials and industry key players.
“This is a very important milestone for the Philippine tourism industry. Bohol has always been one of the top tourism destinations and we in USAID believe that by helping Bohol's tourism industry recover from the aftermath of the earthquake and Yolanda, we help the whole country towards achieving economic growth,” said Acting Mission Director Reed Aeschliman.
“The U.S. Government and Bohol has a long history of partnership and we consider this province as one of the success stories of our development assistance. We are proud to be part of Bohol’s achievements as an emerging growth center and we look forward to further advancing this productive partnership as we work towards our shared goal of achieving broad-based and inclusive growth,” Director Aeschliman stressed.
USAID has identified Bohol as one of the priority areas for USAID-COMPETE. It was under USAID-COMPETE that UNWTO and PATA came in to help develop Bohol's tourism recovery plan.
The UNWTO is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism as a driver of economic growth, inclusive development and environmental sustainability.
Dr. Rifai will be joined by DOT Assistant Secretary Rolando Canizal, USAID Acting Director Aeschliman, and USAID-COMPETE Chief of Party Enrico Basilio.
The turnover rites will be held at the South Palms Resort in Panglao and is expected to take a spotlight as an important tourism milestone.
Joining Rifai from the global news front is Anita Mendirata, lead consultant of the CNN International Task Group, according to Bohol Tourism Office (BTO) head Josephine Cabarrus.
Rifai is coming with another UNWTO official, Xu Jing, who is the Regional Director for Asia-Pacific. The UNWTO Headquarters is in Madrid, Spain.
UNWTO’s membership includes 156 countries, six continental territories and over 400 affiliate members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities.
Rifai and company will have a joint dinner meeting with the provincial government officials and Provincial Tourism Council (PTC) after the presentation.
The UNWTO secretary-general, also labeled the “traveling United Nations,” is set to visit the tarsier sanctuary in Corella, totally-destroyed Loboc church, Alburquerque church and Punta Cruz watchtower in Maribojoc.