July 11, 2012
HERITAGE TOURISM WILL HELP DRAW
Senator Edgardo J. Angara underscored the importance of cultural tourism in helping attain the country's goal of attracting 10 million foreign tourists by 2016.
"Cultural heritage visitors to the United States totaled 15.4 million in 2010. Those who went to Australia for cultural and heritage tourism totaled 23.2 million in 2010. The United Kingdom's heritage tourism industry is worth £12.4 billion a year. This is certainly a niche market we should explore and capitalize on," said Angara in his message at the Department of Labor and Employment--Institute for Labor Studies (DOLE-ILS) Working World Trialogue held earlier today in Pasig.
Global tourism receipts exceeded US$1 trillion last year, making tourism one of the world's largest industries. The Philippines welcomed 1.5 million travelers from January to April, on the way to breaking the previous records of 3.5 million tourists in 2010 and 3.9 million in 2011.
"The richness and diversity of our history, arts and culture coupled with our breathtaking natural wonders, make the Philippines a strong player in the global tourism industry. But aside from generating jobs, business and tax revenues, tourism also promotes other intangible and interrelated benefits," said Angara, who was behind the creation of the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the new charter of the National Museum.
He explained, "First, it provides a strong incentive to preserve heritage, be these sites or traditions, instilling a strong preservation ethic in all stakeholders.
"Second, cultural tourism is an enabling mechanism for public-private partnerships, small- or large-scale. It is a venture that will greatly benefit from a multidisciplinary approach, considering the multifaceted nature of both its direct and indirect impacts.
"Finally, cultural tourism promotes community pride and identity. Through it, we will all be informed and educated of the importance of tangible and intangible heritage, and encouraged to nurture these as best we can," emphasized Angara, also the author of the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009.
The National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009, which was authored by Rep. Juan Edgardo "Sonny" M. Angara at the House of Representatives, provides a guiding framework on the protection, preservation, conservation and promotion of the Philippine's tangible and intangible cultural heritage. It also strengthens cultural institutions and upholds the welfare of cultural workers.
"In addition to the indisputable economic benefits of cultural tourism, preserving our heritage is the bulwark of our identity and integrity as a nation amid the flux of influences in today's highly globalized and interconnected world," said Angara, also Chair of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture.
He explained that cultural tourism is about immersing oneself in the local way of life, in sites and activities that exemplify the identity and character of the local people. It allows travelers to have a personal encounter with the local history, tradition and culture.
"Cultural and heritage tourism is one of our greatest tools in preventing the cultural bankruptcy of our nation," he said. "It is about telling the stories of our local communities and then weaving them together to create the story of our country."
The trialogue, entitled "Heritage Employment. It's more fun in the Philippines: Cultural Heritage as a driver for jobs creation and investments generation in Manila", brought together members of the academe, government and private sector to discuss the enormous potential of cultural and heritage tourism in the Philippines.
Angara urged the participants in the trialogue to map out a heritage tourism and employment strategic framework responsive to the primacy of preserving the country's cultural and historical treasures.
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