UNESCO Supports Sustainable Tourism at the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras - a World Heritage Site

UNESCO Jakarta in partnership with the Philippine National Commission for UNESCO, the Department of Tourism, and the Provincial Local Government Unit (PLGU) of Ifugao held a workshop and a public meeting on sustainable tourism at the World Heritage site of the “Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras.” These events, held in Solano, Nueve Vizcaya Province, the Philippines from 22-24 February 2016, were a follow up of the last initiation workshop on 26-28 October 2015.


Supported by the Malaysia Funds-in-Trust, the first two days were dedicated to the workshop wherein the ‘How To’ guides from the World Heritage Sustainable Tourism (WH+ST) Programme were further discussed, with special attention on the issues of the development of tourism infrastructure to make it more relevant with the current situation. The third and last day of the event would witness a public meeting facilitated by the PLGU Ifugao in which the results of the previous two workshops and the future vision and plans to develop the sustainable tourism strategy for the Rice Terraces as the World Heritage site and for the Ifugao Province as the World Heritage destination would be communicated to a broader audience and stakeholders.


The workshop was attended by 17 participants from the national government and local government, most of whom were the municipal planning coordinators and municipal tourism officers. The public meeting on 24 February 2016 invited 60 representatives from the stakeholder groups, including associations, private sectors, local communities, and also other officials from the local government units.


The workshop was opened by a speech from the Hon. Denis B. Habawel, the Governor of Ifugao Province who thanked UNESCO for guiding the PLGU in planning for sustainable tourism in their World Heritage site. “As we try to come up with our own tourism master plan, we would want everyone to be on the same level of awareness with the conservation and preservation aspects that UNESCO is here to remind us of – to provide us with the skills and tools to keep them injected into a master plan that the PLGU is planning to develop.”


Mr. Bernards A. Zako, Head of the Culture Unit of UNESCO Jakarta stated that while the approval or validation of the future tourism master plan that the PLGU is planning to develop remained the responsibility and task of the local and national authorities, UNESCO will provide guidance according to the respect of the Outstanding Universal Value.


The Officer-in-Charge of the Philippines National Commission, Ms. Lindsay Barrientos expressed the NatCom’s support to assist the sustainability and support the plans made by the provincial government, “We put into the concepts of sustainability of the plans proposed by the province, and conservation and preservation factors will always be followed because we are a unique, world-class, heritage site.”


The Department of Tourism (DOT), represented by Ms. Sylvia Chinayog, extended their support to community-based tourism initiatives that was equitable to sustainable tourism. DOT also encouraged the local government units to develop their tourism with proper legislation and they welcomed any local government units who need assistance in crafting their plans.


The agenda for the first day of the workshop involved a brief recap of the results from the previous initiation workshop and the consolidation of the strategic objectives. The strategic objectives as the single output from the group works during the initiation workshop were further on harmonized by a technical working group during the interim period. This harmonization included identification of the critical issues and also actions to be taken. Therefore, day 1 was dedicated to achieve a consensus from all the participants. Day 2 would continue with the presentations of Guide 3 and 6 of the ‘How To’ guide addressing issues on good governance and management of the development of tourism infrastructure.