Cabinet Secretary Almendras welcomes participants of Tour of Envoys, Tourism Directors (Philippines News Agency)

Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras welcomed on Thursday the participants of the 1st Ambassadors, Consul Generals and Tourism Directors’ Tour (ACGTDT) for posts in the Pacific and Oceania, at the Heroes’ Hall of MalacaAang.

Philippine Ambassador to New Zealand Virginia Benavidez and the country’s envoy to Australia Belen Anota led the participants of the ACGTDT, which is patterned after the ACGTDT for posts in North America conceptualized in 2005 by then Philippine Ambassador to Washington, D.C., and now Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario.

Joining Benavidez and Anota in the four-day tour are Consul General Anne Jalando-on Louis (Sydney, Australia), Consul General Arlene Gonzales-Macaisa (Wellington, New Zealand), Honorary Consul Felix Pintado (Victoria, Australia), Gold Coast Councilor and incoming Honorary Consul for Queensland Margaret Grummit and former Honorary Consul in Victoria, Virginia Kalong, who is also managing director of Philippine Tours, which partnered with Rajah Tours to arrange the ACGTDT.

Also taking part in the ACGTDT are Honorary Vice Consul Virginia Russell, who is also an official of the Council of Auckland Philippine Organizations Inc.; Maria Nanette Carillo (president of the charitable institution NZ-Philippines SCOT Foundation); Rajah Tours Philippines President Jose Clemente III, director of sales Jennylyn Pabilona-Santos and sales manager Jhoanna Rafols-Jose; and Filipino-Kiwi community members Lilia and Wendell Snelgrove, who are part of the successful Auckland leg of the Loboc Children’s Choir New Zealand Tour 2015.

Other participants are Florence Alley (member of the Nurses Association of the Victoria), Monina Raveche (member of the Pastoral Support Group of Victoria), business entrepreneur James Kaiklian, Theresa Medina-Ongkingco (director of the Filipino Chaplaincy Choir in Victoria), Australian Allan John McFadden (who is writing a play based on Noli Me Tangere), Imelda Dela Cruz, Myrna De La Pena and Myrna Reforma (parishioners of the Our Lady of Fatima Parish under Filipino-Australian Fr. Hamilton Ureta), Catherine Andres (president of the Filipino Community Cooperative Ltd. and former president of the Philippine Community Council of New South Wales), Marilyn Chun (founding president of the Ilocano Association of Australia), and Antonio Kalong and Emma Galang (members of the Filipino community of Victoria), Reynaldo Manoto (president of the Rizal Park Monument of Campbelltown), Marissa Manoto (secretary of the Mapua Alumni Association of Australia), Nenita Weekes (president of the Filipiniana Friends Group of Bathurst and Central West), Emma De Vera (president of The Filipino-Australian Consumer) and Lolita Ansman Singh (member of the Ilocano Association of Australia).

The ACGTDT, which is organized by the Department of Foreign Affairs in cooperation with the Department of Tourism, and Rajah Tours, is aimed at enticing the Filipino communities in the Pacific and Oceania to deepen their appreciation of the beauty of the country, its rich history, heritage and culture and attract them to see and visit the various tourist destinations in the Philippines; and assure travellers and tourists that the Philippines is a safe place to visit.

The tour also aims to attract investments, particularly in tourism projects, real estates and other tourism-related industries; promote medical tourism, as well as health and wellness programs, particularly in major destinations like Cebu, Bohol, Boracay and Palawan; promote the Philippines as a retirement haven; and contribute to the national economy in terms of foreign exchange earnings. (PNA) SCS/PND/eds