6,000 tourists experience Filipino culture in US
Vice President Jejomar C. Binay said 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.
Binay issued the statement after the Philippine Embassy in Washington, DC 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.
Based on what Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose L. Cuisia Jr. claimed as the overwhelming number of visitors who went to experience Filipino culture, the Vice President said the Department of Tourism (DOT) 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 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, DC 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 the Embassy, which was participating in the event for the first time, was expecting only 3,000 visitors.
But a record 6,105 people, mostly Americans and other nationalities, came to see the dance, classical music and martial arts performances and also had 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.