Initiation Workshop on Sustainable Tourism at the World Heritage Site of “The Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras”
The Provincial Local Government of Ifugao through the Ifugao Cultural Heritage Office, in partnership with UNESCO Jakarta, and in coordination with the Philippines National Commission for UNESCO, will conduct the Initiation Workshop on Sustainable Tourism at the World Heritage Site of “The Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras” under the umbrella UNESCO project: The Power of Culture: Supporting Community Based Management and Sustainable Tourism at World Heritage Sites in Southeast Asia funded by the Malaysian Government in Banaue Hotel, Ifugao, Philippines on October 26-28,2015.
The World Heritage Site of Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras
Recognizing the living cultural landscape, exhibiting the close relationship of Ifugao with its environment, traditions handed down from one generation to the next, the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. It was placed in the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger in 2001 due to serious threats to its integrity. With the tremendous effort from various local and international stakeholders, the World Heritage Committee removed the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras from the Danger List in 2012. At present, efforts are being sustained to continue the sustainable conservation of the Rice Terraces.
Sustainable Tourism- Locally Shared Vision in International Standard
The three-day workshop in Ifugao, which will bring together a broad set of World Heritage and tourism industry stakeholders, is a commitment of the Provincial Government to the World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism (WH + ST) Programme Action Plan 2013-2015 of UNESCO. Sustainable tourism focuses on the development of the cultural products, and harnessing of local knowledge, and local services to serve the tourists.
The Ifugao Governor Denis B. Habawel envisions the workshop as an opportunity to develop its tourism development strategies in the form of a medium-term Tourism Masterplan, to capacitate the province in its growing tourism industry. Governor Habawel, “It is high time that Ifugao benefits from its forefathers' grand work for humanity.” He sees the workshop as an opportunity to identify the roadmap in expanding the industry.
Mr Shahbaz Khan, the Director and Representative of UNESCO Office Jakarta emphasizes, “These pilot sites which include the Rice Terraces of the Philippines Cordilleras will have lessons which can be shared across and help us develop the tool needed for better tourism management, creating not only new opportunities that benefits for the people in those areas but also an ownership of the vision in the future. Tourism plays a very important role in creating peace and interest of the global community.” He concludes that this tool would help us manage, plan, and have a continuous evaluation on how tourism could be more sustainable linked with the World Heritage sites.
Mr. Peter Debrine of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre and Mrs. Cecilie Smith-Christensen as a tourism expert will give their respective talks on Sustainable Tourism and the ‘How-to’ Guides on Sustainable Tourism, for local stakeholders to be able to apply these guides on a destination approach to their specific contexts. Ifugao Mayors, planning and development coordinators, tourism officers will be introduced to the WH + ST Programme. National Experts Professor Eric Zerrudo and Architect Michael Manalo will also be delivering presentations on heritage contexts in sustainable tourism narratives and on the efforts of the Philippines National Commission for UNESCO on the promotion of sustainable tourism in our World Heritage Sites. In the end, the participants shall produce an Ifugao shared sustainable tourism strategy that will set the foundations of a comprehensive masterplan which can be translated into actions in the future.
Sustainable Development Goals (2015-2030)
EnP Lindsay Barrientos, the Officer-in-Charge for the Philippines National Commission for UNESCO, sees this as an opportunity for creating more avenues for sustainable development, as it aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals 8 and 12, envisioning inclusive and culture-sensitive tourism economies. Further, EnP Barrientos says the workshop is a step forward and a proactive approach in response to the need to address concerns of the local communities amidst the Rice Terraces’ encroachment issues. After the process, Ifugao can serve as an evolving case study, whose learnings can also be shared as a contribution in the international community in its collective push for Sustainable Tourism.
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