Inspiring stories of 20 Filipino men and women were celebrated in a new coffee table book which according to tourism champions, is a testament to how people’s lives have changed through tourism.
“Tourism Stories: Philippines”, commissioned by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and edited by special adviser to UNWTO Secretary General and author of several books to tourism Anita Mendiratta was launched Thursday (Jan 21).
During the launch, Mediratta narrated how she felt the need to get these stories written after visiting disaster-stricken communities in Bohol and Tacloban which were newly hit by an earthquake and typhoon, respectively in 2013.
In a video message, UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Rifai echoed Mediratta saying that he was “touched and inspired” by the hope he saw in Filipinos.
“The lives of these people have been wrecked yet by tragedy yet they were hopeful, they were smiling and very sure of their future—a future where tourism can play a very big role,” Rifai said.
He said that the stories in the book were a testament to the transformative power of tourism in rebuilding livelihood and renew people’s confidence of a better life.
“We trust that each and every story will show the world that despite the immense challenges faced the strength of the Filipino is unique and that it is more fun definitely to be in the Philippines,” he added.
Photos from Tiopes Santiago Karen Facebook post
Meanwhile, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Regional Deputy Mission Director Central Asia Clay Epperson noted how the book “celebrates the triumph of the Philippine spirit in adversity.”
“This book feature the stories of vulnerable men and women who have overcome hardships forging dignified livelihoods through optimism and tourism,” Epperson said.
“By telling the stories of these unknown heroes, we see tourism transformed their lives,” he added.
Epperson meanwhile vowed support from the USAID, particularly through its four-year Advancing Philippine Competitiveness (COMPETE) Project which was launched 2012.
The project assists the Philippines to improve its competitiveness to attain higher levels of trade and investment by providing technical assistance.
Tourism as a prime mover
Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr., for his part said that the Tourism Stories was also a representation of how tourism touches and changes the lives of people.
Moreover, Jimenez noted how the book highlighted the success of the Philippine tourism today.
“Success not because it is earning money—although it is, not because it is building livelihood—although it is, but because they are enjoying it as human being. It is a livelihood they would do for free,” Jimenez said.
“Tourism is no longer a business for some but a part of community life for most. The Philippine tourism industry has indeed developed into a powerhouse not to support economic growth and foreign exchange generation but also as a prime mover of lives and that it is in fact very exciting to watch,” he added. (Azer N. Parrocha – PNA)