Remarks by Clay Epperson, Deputy Mission Director, Launch of Department of Tourism (DOT) - Tourism Stories Book

Thursday, January 21, 2016

[As Prepared]

[Acknowledgments and introductions]

I am here to represent the United States Agency for International Development, more commonly known as USAID. USAID is the principal arm of the United States Government that offers technical and financial assistance to partner countries, such as the Philippines, and the citizens of those countries. I bring you the greeting of the United States Ambassador to the Philippines, Mr. Philip Goldberg.

Today we are launching a collection of inspiring stories of ordinary men and women who are advancing tourism throughout the Philippines. They come from places as far north as Ilocos Norte and as far south as Zamboanga.

Tourism Stories is an invitation to everyone to celebrate the triumph of the Filipino spirit amid adversity. This book features stories of vulnerable men and women who have overcome hardships, forging dignified livelihoods through tourism, and helping to advance the sector throughout the Philippines. By telling the stories of these unknown heroes who make our travels memorable, we see how tourism has transformed their lives and how they have influenced others.

The U.S. Government recognizes tourism can greatly contribute to a nation’s development and, through USAID, strongly supports the Philippine government’s vision to grow and sustain an inclusive, environmentally and socially responsible tourism sector in the Philippines and in the Southeast Asian region.

USAID is addressing this priority through its Advancing Philippine Competitiveness - or COMPETE - project, implemented by the Asia Foundation, with Mr. Henry Basilio as Chief of Party. Among other activities, the project works alongside the Government of the Philippines to improve productivity in key industries, including tourism. On a large scale, the project aims to assist the Philippines improve its competitiveness to attain higher levels of trade and investment.

All of this ultimately supports the Partnership for Growth, a White House signature initiative through which the U.S. Government and the Government of the Philippines work together to improve economic growth and development in the Philippines.

While we work closely with the Government of the Philippines to achieve inclusive growth, we are also working to ensure that growth is lasting and resilient. That is why USAID remains committed to renewing hope and optimism in disaster-affected communities dependent on tourism, as seen by our relief, recovery and rebuilding efforts in Bohol and Tacloban.

USAID, through the COMPETE project, and in partnership with the Department of Tourism and the United Nations World Tourism Organization, helped develop the Bohol Tourism Recovery Program after the 2013 earthquake. In Tacloban, and in other Typhoon Yolanda-affected areas, USAID has provided approximately $143 million to help the country respond to, and recover from, the storm’s devastating effects. In addition to humanitarian assistance, USAID has supported rehabilitation and recovery by restoring access to education and health infrastructure and services, as well as livelihood activities.

Lastly, it is through COMPETE that we have supported the implementation of the current Philippines National Tourism Development Plan and the formulation of the succeeding six-year plan for 2017 to 2022.

As I end my remarks, I congratulate the Department of Tourism for realizing your vision for this book. The United States Government remains your committed partner, so that prosperity reaches far and wide in the Philippines, and that it’s here to stay.

We indulge everyone to join us in sharing these stories of pride, hope and resiliency of the Filipino people.

Thank you!

Issuing Country