On behalf of the Philippines Department of Tourism, let me warmly wish everyone a happy and meaningful World Tourism Day. This year’s theme, “Tourism and Rural Development,” is particularly relevant to our country as many of our rural areas depend on tourism but have been adversely affected by the pandemic.
I am pleased to report that, in concurrence with our local government units, tourism stakeholders and local communities, we have slowly began reopening our destinations for domestic travel with health and safety protocols in place. This gradual revival of the industry will bring back jobs and livelihoods to the rural areas, where many of our tourism products, such as beach, diving, ecotourism, arts and culture, and farm sites are found.
In a recent United Nations Policy Brief, Secretary General Antonio Guterres has asserted that tourism has been a vehicle for integration, empowerment, and income generation for rural communities. This statement recognizes, at the highest level, the importance of tourism to a nation’s development. Our tourism industry in the Philippines has been promoting the inclusive development of the countryside, supporting our farmers, Indigenous Peoples, women, and other marginalized groups through sustainable programs that uplift and empower.
We have been given this time of tourism closure to transform the crisis into an opportunity; a chance to rebuild tourism on the foundation of safety, sustainability, inclusiveness, and resiliency. Let us remain steadfast in our commitment to pursue equitable and responsible growth as the legacy of our industry.