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5 May 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Philippines should take advantage of the goodwill generated by the recent visit to Manila of President Barack Obama as well as the recent upgrade in the safety rating of the aviation sector to convince more Americans to visit the country.

Vice President Jejomar C. Binay issued the statement after the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. said it drew more than 6,000 visitors when it opened its doors to the public on Saturday as part of the annual Passport DC Around the World Embassy Tour.

Judging by what Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. described as the overwhelming number of visitors who came to experience Filipino culture, the Vice President said the Department of Tourism should take advantage of this interest among mainstream Americans to get more of them to visit the Philippines.

The Vice President noted that while Americans are on top of the list of foreign visitors, with a total of 642,626 arriving from the US last year, these are mostly balikbayans spending their holidays in the Philippines.

“The men and women of our Embassy in Washington, D.C. did a very commendable job in letting hundreds of Americans know why we say it’s more fun in the Philippines,” the Vice President said. “We need to do more of this, we need to be more creative in attracting more foreign tourists to visit the Philippines.”

He noted that the Embassy, which was participating in the event for the first time, was expecting only 3,000 visitors but as it turned out a record 6,105 people, mostly Americans and other nationalities, came to see the dance, classical music and martial arts performances and also have a taste of Filipino cuisine such as lechon, pancit and lumpia.

“This and the tremendous goodwill generated by the recent visit of President Obama as well as the granting of Category 1 status offer opportunities for exponential growth for Philippine tourism,” Vice President Binay said.

“These opportunities must be matched by an intensive airport rehabilitation and modernization program as well as the expansion of existing flight routes of Philippine carriers and the opening of new routes to non-traditional destinations,” he said.

With the recent safety upgrade by the Federal Aviation Administration, Philippine Airlines is expected to open new routes to New York and Chicago while Cebu Pacific is reportedly considering flying to Hawaii and the West Coast.

The Vice President said he hopes the Department of Tourism could provide additional support to the Embassy for next year’s Around the World Embassy Tour organized every year by the District of Columbia Cultural Tourism Office.

The Vice President, at the same time, thanked the US-Philippines Society for its efforts in raising the profile of the Philippines in the US through, among others, cultural initiatives such as the performances in New York and Washington, D.C. of the Bayanihan Dance Company and the Madrigal Singers.

He also thanked the US-Philippines Society for organizing the After the Storm Concert benefit concert for victims of Typhoon Yolanda at the Kennedy Center on 15 June. Among those expected to take part in the concert are Broadway artist Lea Salonga, singer Apl.de.ap and actor Lou Diamond Phillips. ###