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The Philippines elected as Vice President of UNWTO General Assembly after 24 Years, nabs Chairmanship of Commission for East Asia and the Pacific

PHNOM PENH — The Philippines, represented by Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco, was elected Vice President of the 25th General Assembly of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in the election proceedings held at the Sokha Hotel in Cambodia on June 16. 

The last time the Philippines held the position was in 1999 or 24 years ago. 

The election took place during the 55th Meeting of the UNWTO Regional Commission for East Asia and the Pacific where the Philippines was also elected as Chair of the Commission for East Asia and the Pacific. As the new chair of the said commission, the country will preside over the meetings to tackle concerns within the region. The candidature of the Philippines was uncontested. 

Speaking before UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, fellow tourism ministers including H.E. Thong Khon of the Ministry of Tourism of Cambodia; H.E. Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno of the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy of Indonesia; H.E. Abdulla Mausoom of the Ministry of Tourism of Maldives; and H.E. King Sing Tiong of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, And Culture, Deputy Speaker Representative Duke Frasco and Ambassador Maria Amelita C. Aquino of the Philippine Embassy in Cambodia, along with Vice Ministers, tourism leaders, and UNWTO delegates from member and associate countries, Secretary Frasco conveyed the country’s readiness to take a primary role in the international tourism scene. 

The vision of our President is for the Philippines to become a tourism powerhouse in Asia. We cannot wait to partner and collaborate with all of you as we usher in a golden era of tourism for our regions to become the tourism powerhouse regions in the world,” said Tourism Secretary Frasco. 

We are beyond grateful as we welcome this opportunity to present our best to the world and for all the member states and affiliates of the UNWTO to be re-introduced to the Philippines- a nation steeped in culture, heritage, and tradition, driven by a young population that is modern with a talent for innovation and entrepreneurship, anchored by our love for country, our sense family and community, our abiding faith, and our willingness to go the extra mile to treat everyone we meet, as we welcome them into our homes, with gracious hospitality, as we are blessed with an abundance of immensely beautiful natural resources across our 7,641 islands,” Secretary Frasco tells the tourism executives and delegates present during her speech. 

Cebu, Philippines to host the next UNWTO meeting

As chair, the Philippines will host the Joint Commission Meeting of the Commission for East Asia and the Pacific, and the Commission for South Asia in 2024. The event is expected to gather some 300 delegates from the said regions of the world. 

We cannot wait to welcome you to the Philippines particularly to my home province of Cebu, adjudged as one of the best islands in the world. Whether you want to go swimming with the whale sharks or diving with thresher sharks, experience gastronomic adventures and dance at our festivals, foremost of which is the Sinulog Festival. It has a rich culture, local heritage sites and has a place in world history as being on the map of the first circumnavigation of the world, not to mention the first touchpoint of Christianity in Asia,” Secretary Frasco tells the delegates during the Philippine-hosted dinner reception. 

In his speech, UNWTO Secretary-General Pololikashvili lauded the “very impressive” efforts made by the Philippines to hold a dinner reception to conclude the commission meetings in Phnom Penh giving delegates a preview of the Philippines’ hosting in Cebu. 

I was an Ambassador in my country for eight years, Secretary Christina, I know it is difficult to organize this kind of event in other countries, but you know, this is very impressive, congratulations and we are very very excited and looking forward and I can’t imagine what you will do in your beautiful country,” enthused Secretary-General Pololikashvili. 

Celebrating DOT’s Golden Anniversary Aptly 

The Department’s election to the UNWTO may be considered as timely testament and honor to the half-a-century of DOT’s existence which strategically situates the Philippines toward a more primary position and prominence in the international tourism arena.  

The DOT is celebrating its 50th founding anniversary this year. To recall, the Department is an offshoot of the former Department of Trade and Tourism, which in 1973 was crafted by President Ferdinand E. Marcos to be what we now know as the Department of Tourism separating it from its precursor. 

Our election as Vice President and Chair of the UNWTO General Assembly and the Commission for East Asia and the Pacific, respectively, only affirms our sincere intention to seriously and purposely put the Philippines in the limelight of the global tourism industry.  We take this opportunity to help focus the eyes of the world to our country and hopefully bring their attention to the interesting attractions and destinations that await them when they come and visit us,” enthused Secretary Frasco. 

Meanwhile, the recent Philippine Statistics Authority data shows that combined tourism revenue from domestic and *international* visitors amounted to 1.87 trillion pesos with the industry creating 5.35 million tourism-related employment. 


Published:June 20, 2023

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