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12 August 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Filipino-Americans are being encouraged to help promote the Philippines as one of the top tourist destinations in the world.

The invitation to explore and promote the Philippines came from Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. following the recently-concluded concluded Ambassadors, Consul Generals, and Tourism Directors Tour (ACGTDT) through which close to 300 Filipino-Americans got to reconnect with their roots and deepen their appreciation of their motherland.

Now on its 9th year, the ACGTDT is a tourism program aimed at experiencing the Philippines’ top destinations and exploring business opportunities. The tour, organized by the Philippine Embassy and Consulates General in the United States in cooperation with the Department of Tourism (DOT) and Rajah Tours Philippines, took place from 28 to 31 July 2014.

Ambassador Cuisia thanked the participants and encouraged them to help promote Philippine tourism by sharing their experiences during the ACGTDT.

Thank you for choosing to travel to the Philippines. It is because of your continued faith and confidence in the Philippines that our country continues to experience positive growth. Promoting the Philippines is not just the responsibility of the government. You, too, can do your part by spreading the word,” said Ambassador Cuisia.

The Ambassador added the Philippines is working on improving its tourism facilities to cater to the growing interest among tourists to the visit the country.

“Americans and Filipino-Americans have shown a growing interest in traveling to the Philippines. Aside from the natural beauty the country has to offer, balikbayans want to see the ‘new Philippines’ or the growth the country has experienced in the last few years,” said Ambassador Cuisia.

“This should serve as motivation to further improve tourism facilities in the country to promote the Philippines as a top tourist destination in the world,” he added.

The four-day tour kicked off with a welcome dinner at the posh Makati Shangri-la Hotel sponsored by the Tourism Promotions Board of the Department of Tourism. During the dinner, participants were treated to a display of dance and musical performances.

Participants traveled to the Pico de Loro, Hamilo Coast in Nasugbu, Batangas where they were welcomed by Nasugbu Mayor Rosario Apacible and her husband, former Rep. Tom Apacible.

In the SM-developed Pico de Loro, participants were entertained by a marching band and a show by the town’s young artists. They were also able to enjoy the resort’s world-class facilities including swimming pools and spa treatments.

"I was amazed with the first class treatment that I received during the entire trip, beginning immediately when I landed in Manila where I was warmly greeted and brought to a 5-star hotel,” said Audie de Castro,  Philippine Honorary Consul in San Diego.

“The convenient tours allowed me to see beautiful sights, learn more about Filipino history, and, most importantly, meet new friends and have a great time.   It was just an amazing lifetime experience that I will never forget,” he added.

Another highlight of the tour was the visit to Malacañang Palace where participants were welcomed by Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario and Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma. Participants were also given the privilege of touring the Malacañang Museum and Library.

The tour of Malacañang ended with a buffet spread at the Heroes’ Hall catered by Via Mare. Participants were all praise and compliments when it came to the Filipino dishes prepared by Via Mare.

The ACGTDT was capped off with a lavish farewell dinner sponsored by Western Union at the Dusit Thani Hotel. Several lucky guests went home with raffle prizes from Western Union that included videoke machines and Apple iPads. Philippine Airlines also provided roundtrip tickets for two from the US to the Philippines. To end the evening and a successful tour, participants took on the dance floor and enjoyed the music until midnight.

“This was the first time for my wife, Marj, and I to join the ACGTDT.  To say the least, we were thoroughly impressed with the detailed arrangements and itinerary.  An ocular view of the Philippine islands was very well presented.  The shows, tours and dinners were spectacular and we returned well-informed from of the day’s activities,” said Rumy Mohta of Richmond, Virginia.

“Truly in four days, they proved that ‘It’s More Fun in the Philippines.’  Marj and I have already signed up for next year and promise to spread the word in the US and bring our friends in the next trip,” he said.

The ACGTDT was initiated in 2005 by then Ambassador Albert del Rosario, who now serves as Secretary of Foreign Affairs. The flagship tourism project has become an annual event that also involves Philippine Airlines and Rajah Tours Philippines. It has also become a venue for members of the Filipino-American community to see firsthand the recent positive growth of the Philippines. ###