The Philippines participated in the 23rd General Assembly of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) held on 9-13 September 2019 in Saint Petersburg.
The Philippine delegation was led by Department of Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, along with the Philippine Ambassador to Russia Carlos Sorreta; Philippine Permanent Representative to the Madrid-based UNWTO, Ambassador Philippe Lhuillier; and Cong. Sol Aragones, Chairperson of the House Committee on Tourism.
At the meeting, the Philippines launched its bid to host the 24th Session of the UNWTO General Assembly in 2021, centering its campaign narrative around showcasing the Philippines’ sustainable tourism success while highlighting the significance of 2021 as a landmark year in Philippine history, as it marks the 500th Anniversary of the circumnavigation of the globe. Sec. Romulo-Puyat cited Boracay as one of the biggest and first success stories of the Philippine Government’s drastic action to ensure the preservation of its most popular tourist sites.
However, the Philippines came second only to Morocco, who campaigned based on sustainable and inclusive development, and capitalized on its role as one of the leaders in tourism in the African region.
The event also saw the awarding of Filipino Chef Margarita Fores, who was appointed by Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili as UNWTO Ambassador for Gastronomy Tourism. She now joins the likes of Chef Juan Mari Arzak and Chef Joan Roca in holding this prestigious position.
The Philippines’ Masungi Georeserve was also recognized by Secretary General Pololikashvili as one of the top three privately-led sustainable tourism projects, out of 200 nominations from all over the world.
The Philippines looks forward to continuing its work with the UNWTO in its projects, being a member of the Committee on Tourism and Sustainability and Committee on Statistics and the Tourism Satellite Account.
Philippine Permanent Representative Ambassador Lhuiller expressed gratitude for the support rendered by Member States, and reiterated the Philippines’ commitment to strengthen its participation in the organization.