UNWTO head tells the world: ‘Experience PH’


“You haven’t lived if you have not experienced the Philippines.”

Speaking at the 6th United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) International Conference on Tourism Statistics on Wednesday, June 21, UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai encouraged individuals across the globe to visit the Philippines.

“We are here, ladies and gentlemen, to tell the world to come to the Philippines and make no mistake about it. Anybody who tries to present any other version of the story should come and see with your own eyes. All of the countries of the world that have experienced difficulties have come back and have shown their best and their beauty comes out,” Rifai added.

Rifai described this year’s gathering at the Newport Performing Arts Theatre of Resorts World Manila as a “homecoming” and a milestone. The Philippines last hosted the UNWTO conference in 1980.

“The world is lucky to have the Philippines. Culture, nature, upbeat people give the country so much life. The Philippines is a country to travel and respect, and its greatest gift is its people,” Rifai added.

The opening ceremony was attended by Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Wanda Corazon Teo, Tourism Ministers from Thailand, Cameroon, Costa Rica, Fiji, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Seychelles, and 721 international and local delegates.

Meanwhile, DOT Secretary Wanda Corazon Teo continues to promote sustainable tourism on a global level by urging leaders to support tourism-related policy making.

“We hope that the Manila Call for Action will be adopted at this forum to demonstrate our common resolve to create a better world for our children and future generations,” she said.

In a statement, President Rodrigo Duterte also thanked the UNWTO for choosing the Philippines as the venue for the conference.

“More than just a proof that the Philippines remains a safe destination for meetings, conferences, and other tourism activities, it also affirms the Philippines’ effort to promote tourism as a vehicle for a nation’s sustainability and inclusive progress,” he said in a statement read by Teo.

Meanwhile, Pimentel assured the delegates that the situation in Mindanao is temporary.

“I am confident that once this crisis is over, we will have peace and security in that region that will result in more tourists visiting Southern Philippines,” said Pimentel.

During the three-day conference, tourism ministers will develop a statistical framework to integrate sustainable tourism on a global level.

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