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09 December 2015

WASHINGTON, DC—“Tourism thrives in an atmosphere of excitement and encouragement,” Philippine Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, Jr. told the audience of a tourism conference at the World Bank Headquarters on 08 December 2015.

Secretary Jimenez was speaking in a panel that focused on “Pathways to Growth” in tourism, which discussed how developing country destinations can capture their share of global tourism and promote the growth of tourism in the future. The panel discussion was part of the World Bank’s tourism conference entitled, “Driving Development Through Tourism,” held on 8-9 December 2015 in Washington, D.C.

The man behind the country’s tourism slogan, “It’s More Fun in the Philippines,” prefaced his opening remarks with a comparison of the dynamism of tourism in the Philippines to the excitement generated by both tourists and locals as they rendezvous in Albay, Legazpi before the periodic eruptions of the renowned, cone-shaped volcano, Mount Mayon, asserting that human beings always prefer an atmosphere of fun.

Secretary Jimenez also emphasized that the Philippines is a prime destination for international meetings and conferences.

“The most successful meetings are those where people can’t tell the difference between business and leisure travel,” he told the audience. Citing the recent success of the country’s year-long hosting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation or APEC, he noted how some of the most important agreements such as the APEC action agenda to promote the globalization of micro, small and medium enterprises, and the plan of action to enhance financial cooperation in the Asia Pacific, were reached in the leisure islands of Boracay and Cebu, respectively.

Secretary Jimenez likewise reminded the audience of the role of tourism in assisting communities to recover from the effects of natural disasters, pointing, in particular, to the experiences of the country after Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in 2013. This is important because natural disasters may occur in areas with limited capabilities to quickly recover and rebuild.

Secretary Jimenez noted tourism’s positive potential for recovery by its ability to enhance the marshaling of resources and drive the revitalization of businesses. The Department of Tourism’s role during the post-Haiyan recovery efforts, he emphasized, was to find areas in Eastern Visayas least damaged by the typhoon, so that these areas can be destinations for tourism that can generate a source of income for the affected communities.

Although he acknowledged that the country is still recovering from the effects of the disaster, Secretary Jimenez said that the Aquino administration had learned lessons from the experience and now approach disaster recovery with the mantra “Build Back Better."

When asked what recommendations he had for the World Bank as it endeavors to promote development through tourism, Secretary Jimenez immediately proposed that the international community would be better served by agreeing on a fresh vocabulary to measure the performance and quality of tourism’s contribution to an economy. As the first step towards the right direction, he urges World Bank Staff, “You’ve got to do more traveling!”

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTCC), tourism’s contribution to the GDP of the Philippines has grown over 50% since 2010. In 2014, the U.S. alone brought in about 723,000 visitors to the Philippines out of 4.8 million international arrivals. This makes the U.S. the second largest market for international visitors, only after South Korea with almost 1.2 million visitors to the Philippines in 2014.

The World Bank Group Tourism Forum 2015: Driving Development Through Tourism is the World Bank’s inaugural forum on tourism. The Forum brings government representatives and accomplished private sector leaders to discuss opportunities in tourism to promote development and growth while addressing the challenges of the sector in emerging economies. ###

9 December 2015

World Bank Group President Dr. Jim Yong Kim providing opening remarks for the inaugural World Bank Group Tourism Forum 2015: Driving Development Through Tourism

9 December 2015

Mr. Ramon Jimenez, Secretary of Tourism, Philippines at the inaugural World Bank Group Tourism Forum 2015: Driving Development Through Tourism

10 December 2015

World Bank Group Tourism Forum 2015 Panel "Pathways to Growth" (left to right) Ms. Anabel Gonzalez, Senior Director, Trade & Competitiveness Global Practice, WBG; Ms. Marta Blanco, Director General of Turespaña, Spain; Mr. Francisco Eduardo Bonifaz R., Minister for Tourism, Guatemala; Mr. Ramon Jimenez, Secretary of Tourism, Philippines; Ms. Helen Marano, Vice President for Industry, World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC)