During a recent visit to the Philippines, UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai visited the Bohol province to review the recovery progress following the 2013 earthquake and deliver a recovery plan for the region’s tourism sector.
The Bohol Tourism Recovery Plan is a roadmap to support the recovery of Bohol’s tourism sector, which was struck by the severe earthquake of October 2013. Representing a significant development opportunity for the Bohol province, the tourism sector is fundamental to the region.
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 Recovery Plan 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 Recovery 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. 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” said Mr. Rifai.
The Secretary-General also visited the areas in Tacloban which were affected by Typhoon Yolanda in November 2013. 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.
Despite being hit by two major natural disasters, tourism in the Philippines saw significant growth in 2013 with international tourist arrivals registering a 10% double-digit increase to a total of 4.7 million while international tourism receipts grew by 15% to reach US$ 4.7 billion.