Philippine beaches have again made waves in the global tourism scene as the country's pavilion bagged two gold medals in a recent international expo.
The Philippines won the top awards for creative display and theme development in the small pavilion category (category C) of Expo 2012 which ended this week in Yeosu, South Korea, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said in a statement.
Featured in the Philippine pavilion were corals and sand sourced from the country's beaches, including the white sand of Boracay, pink sand of Sta. Cruz Island in Zamboanga, brown sand of San Lorenzo in Guimaras, and black sand of Sto. Domingo in Albay.
Recycled materials were also used for the pavilion to "show the connection between and among the seas and the coastal communities," the DOT noted.
It added that the exhibit's concept "Island of Diversity–Seas of Connectivity" was developed by University of the Philippines marine biologist Edgardo Gomez, following the Expo 2012 theme "The Living Ocean and Coast."
"The idea was to portray the Philippines as a destination where fun and sustainable tourism coexist and form part of the indivisible whole," the DOT said.
The Philippines bested 11 countries in the small pavilion category. In the creative display criteria, it was followed by Lithuania (silver) and Mexico (bronze). Tunisia and Vietnam, meanwhile, won the silver and gold medals for theme development, respectively.
"This marks the first time that the Philippines won the gold award in an international expo, and also the first time in the entire history of the international expo that a country has won two gold awards," the DOT added.
The panel of judges, composed of architecture and design, scored the pavilions based on design, messages conveyed, environmental solutions presented and educational value.
"This expo was my very first assignment from President Benigno Simeon Aquino III when I started as Tourism Secretary in 2011... This is a victory not only for the country’s tourism industry, but also for the Filipino people..." Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, Jr. said.
The three-month exposition that started last May 12, attracted over eight million globally, the International Media Center of the Expo 2012 organizers said.