UNWTO sec-gen calls Albay a gem

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United Nations World Tourism Organization Secretary General Taleb Rifai greets tourists at Misibis Bay Resort and Casino on Saturday during his sortie in Albay province. The UNWTO top official was in Legazpi City to preside over the joint UNWTO member states and ASEAN meetings on Sunday. PHOTO BY RHAYDZ BARCIA

United Nations World Tourism Organization Secretary General Taleb Rifai greets tourists at Misibis Bay Resort and Casino on Saturday during his sortie in Albay province. The UNWTO top official was in Legazpi City to preside over the joint UNWTO member states and ASEAN meetings on Sunday. PHOTO BY RHAYDZ BARCIA

MISIBIS BACACAY, Albay: United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Secretary General Taleb Rifai described Albay as a gem the world should see.

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“I’ve been here for three-hour seeing the spectacular Mayon Volcano and Legazpi, Albay through chopper you have a gem that the world need to see. Legazpi is a major major tourism destination in the world with beautiful smiling people,” Rifai told The Manila Times after arriving on Saturday afternoon in Legazpi City.

Rifai was met by tourism regional director Maria “Nini” Ong-Ravanilla and joined Rep. Al Francis Bichara and other UNWTO officials in a helicopter tour around the city before heading to Misibis Bay Resort & Casino.

Rafai lauded the tourism officials, governors, mayors and congressmen and stakeholders in Albay for its holistic and unified promotion of tourism in the countryside.

“There are similar beautiful beaches in the other parts of the world but the best gem you have is your people who are happy, friendly and hospitable. They are the best images you have aside from unique destinations like this Misibis Bay Resort in Cagraray Island. I will recommend Misibis, Legazpi and Albay province as this is undiscovered yet but a gem,” said Rafai.

“Philippines is the land of smiling people. Celebrate life despite of disaster. You have wonderful islands, beaches, volcano and the top caliber and seriousness officials of promoting tourism is way beyond other parts of the world as you have happy and wonderful people with positive attitude,” he said.

Rifai is presiding over the two-day UNWTO-ASEAN International Conference on Tourism and Climate Change where the member-nations will take up and sign the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism (GCET) treaty on Sunday.

GCET is a comprehensive set of principles designed to guide key players in tourism development to help government, travel industry, and communities to maximize the sectors’ benefits while minimizing its potential negative impact on the environment, cultural heritage and societies across the globe.

The code has 10 principles that amply cover the economic, social, cultural, and environmental components of travel and tourism.

Ellizaldy “Zaldy” S. Co, who owns Misibis Bay Resort and Casino, is among the signatories to GCET treaty which will be signed at the Oriental Hotel on Sunday.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said holding three UNWTO conventions proved the province’s world-class capability as host.

“This event is a prelude of the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. In the same manner, this is further proof that our efforts and preparations respond to international benchmark demands,” Salceda said.

Albay will host at least 10 of the 63 events in the 2015 APEC summit.

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