MANILA, Philippines — The inclusion of Batanes Islands, through the Batanes Tourism Hospitality Monitoring Center (BTHMC), as the newest member of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) International Network of Sustainable Tourism Observatories (INSTO) reflects successful sustainability efforts in local destinations in the Philippines.
Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco made the statement following the official announcement by the UNWTO on Tuesday evening (Philippine Time) of its inclusion of Batanes Islands in its growing International Network of Sustainable Tourism Observatories.
Secretary Frasco supported the application of Batanes Islands as an INSTO member by way of a letter to the UNWTO chief dated March 31, 2023, as a formal endorsement through the help of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Embassy of the Philippines in Madrid, Spain.
Batanes Islands, the northernmost part of the Philippines famous for its breathtaking views overlooking the Pacific Ocean, is the first tourist destination in the entire country chosen as an INSTO Network member.
“The Department of Tourism is delighted with the inclusion of Batanes Islands to the highly regarded UNWTO International Network of Sustainable Tourism Observatories. We congratulate the Batanes Tourism Hospitality Monitoring Center and thank them for all their efforts at inspiring local destinations to prioritize sustainability as it greatly benefits Philippine Tourism. We hope to add more of our destinations to this global network in the future,” Secretary Frasco said, as she emphasized that “for destinations to thrive until the next generations, sustainability must be at the core of development.”
According to UNWTO’s press release, the observatory will be led by the Batanes Tourism Hospitality Monitoring Center (BTHMC)—the research group in-charge of the monitoring of the tourism sustainability on the islands, in collaboration with the province and its local stakeholders, to deliver its commitment to support the sustainable development of tourism based on evidence and a participatory approach. These commitments, according to the special UN agency, are instrumental in building a sustainable and resilient tourism sector that benefits the local people, the Ivatans, as well as visitors, while ensuring environmental and cultural conservation.
“For any destination, measurement is important as it provides a better understanding of where a destination stands and where it wants to go. For a destination like the Batanes Islands, such measurement work is even more relevant as it will help to preserve the uniqueness of the islands and build a responsible sector that benefits the local people and visitors alike. We are very pleased to welcome the Batanes Observatory as a new member of the INSTO network,” UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said in a press release.
Though occasionally pummeled by strong typhoons due to its location, Batanes Islands continue to wow tourists with its majestic sceneries at any viewpoint, distinct flora and fauna, not to mention that its traditional houses, including those proclaimed as heritage sites, were built from stones, thus able to withstand challenging weather conditions. The indigenous natives of Batanes, the Ivatans, are also known to be resilient and welcoming people.
At present, there are UNWTO INSTO operating in nations including the United States, Spain, Brazil, Greece, Thailand, and Indonesia, among others, with the highest number of INSTO observatories found in China.