Marcos Calls for Sustainable Tourism at UN Joint Meeting

Marcos Calls for Sustainable Tourism at UN Joint Meeting
SunStar Local News

PRESIDENT Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has raised the importance of a sustainable tourism economy in preserving ecology and local cultures through the adoption of sustainable practices.

Marcos, during the opening ceremony of the 36th Joint Meeting of the United Nations (UN) Tourism Commission for East Asia and the Pacific and the UN Tourism Commission for South Asia at Sheraton Cebu Mactan, Punta Engaño, Lapu-Lapu City on Friday morning, June 28, 2024, stressed green transformation of the country’s tourism products and services as it serves one solution to address climate change, resource preservation and long-term industry sustainability.

Marcos said education and product development through green transformation in tourism were among the discussions of the 36th Joint Meeting.

“We need to raise the standards and practices in this crucial sector by investing in education, training, and skills upgrading of all the personnel who are working in this industry,” Marcos said.

“We will require experts and professionals from different fields to come and help to make tourism a meaningful and educational and Impactful experience not only for our tourists but also for our stakeholders,” he added.

Aside from green transformation, Marcos stressed the importance of collaborating with private tourism enterprises to implement reforms that will encourage tourists to visit and return to the Philippines.

These measures include easing visa access, enhancing water sanitation and healthcare facilities in tourist destinations, and improving connectivity hubs, such as airports, Marcos said.

Marcos graced the opening ceremony of the UN Tourism event, together with Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco, Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia and the local officials from various local government units (LGUs), Marcos welcomed United Nation (UN) Tourism secretary general Zurab Pololikashvili and foreign delegates on the Friday event.

Accreditation standards

Frasco, in an interview on the sidelines of the event, said the country’s tourism industry has already started adopting measures to advance the sustainable tourism development goals of the country.

She was particular to the launching and implementation of the revised National Accreditation Standards, which has included green initiatives for the private and public tourism sectors to comply with, such as energy and environmental conservation in the hotel and the accommodation industry.

Pololikashvili, in his speech, proposed the establishment of a UN Tourism Academy or UN Tourism Educational Center in Cebu, emphasizing education as an “important component and top priority of the organization.”

He stressed the UN Tourism joint meeting exposed the Philippines internationally which will attract direct foreign investment.

He said tourists require two main components for them to visit a country: these are peace and love, which the Philippines has already embraced and offered.

The meeting has two main objectives of the event, namely the sharing of best practices and tourism policy.

Tourism arrivals

On the other hand, Marcos lauded the vital role of the country’s tourism to the economy as from January to March of this year, the Philippines has reached 2.9 million international tourists.

Marcos added that around 5.45 million international tourist arrivals into the country were recorded in 2023, exceeding last year’s target of 4.8 million.

“In 2023, the share of Tourism Direct Gross Value Added to the Philippine economy amounted to 8.6 percent of our GDP or 2.09 trillion pesos, which roughly amounts to 35 billion US dollars. This is an impressive increase of 48 percent compared to our previous year’s numbers,” he added.

Marcos highlighted the figures have shown the “robust recovery and continued appeal of the country as a top travel destination.”

He added it also marks the highest record in growth in gross value added in tourism since the year 2000.

Over 500 international delegates from 30 countries in Asia and the Pacific have gathered for the event and the first UN Tourism Regional Forum on Gastronomy Tourism for Asia and the Pacific held in Cebu.

Countries include Afghanistan, Argentina, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cameroon, Chile, China, Fiji, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Lao PDR, Macao, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, South Korea and Spain.

The country hosting the two UN Tourism events was part of the representation of Secretary Frasco as vice president of the 25th General Assembly of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO – now known as UN Tourism) and the Philippines being elected as chair of the Commission for East Asia and the Pacific.

As host, the Philippines led the discussion to address regional concerns over the tourism sector among the participating nations. / EHP

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