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Tourism Center organizes forum on food and sustainable tourism

Posted: 2016-02-09
Category: News


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Tourism destinations and festivities have always been the primary tourism product of the Philippines, ranging from the breath-taking mountain sights and astounding beaches, to vibrant merriment spread throughout the country. Ever since, Philippine tourism has been taken synonymously with tourist attractions and destinations, but as calls for sustainable tourism are being echoed, food and culture is becoming a trend of Philippine tourism today. Food and culture is the new sustainable tourism product that the country can offer to complement what it is currently putting forward. This was the general idea shared by the experts in the forum Food and Culture: A New Sustainable Tourism Product for ASEAN last 19 January 2016 at the Leyte Function Room of the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila. This is in conjunction with the ASEAN Tourism Forum 2016 hosted by the Department of Tourism (DOT).

Mrs. Felice Prudente Sta. Maria

Tourism has always been geared towards showcasing the culture of a country, and food plays a significant role of painting a distinct perspective of our culture. Filipino culture is deconstructed to the very last ingredients of our dishes. According to Asec. Arturo P. Boncato Jr., Assistant Secretary, Tourism Regulation, Coordination and Resource Generation of the DOT, food is significant to every Filipino as it satisfies our bodily needs, and more importantly, it binds our history and citizenship. There is more to food than we know because food has an undeniable link with our country’s heritage, history, and culture.

Filipino food is both a unique and familiar cuisine. It has the characteristic of being an authentic cuisine that every Filipinos are proud to call their own, and at the same, of being reminiscent to other international cuisines. A simple home-cooked meal may taste very Filipino yet it reminds us of a Spanish, Chinese, or Indian dish that we have once consumed. It is very rich and colourful, just like our own culture and history. According to Mrs. Felice Prudente Sta. Maria, internationally awarded author of non-fiction about Philippine Culture, the intricacies of Filipino food, from the ingredients to the methods of cooking utilized at present, is contemplative of the history of the Philippines. In delve into the relation of food and culture, the experts provided their own insights as to how food can be seen as a prospective tourism product that the Philippines can benefit from and can offer to the ASEAN region:

Mr. Spanky Hizon Enriquez

Sta. Maria introduced two ways as to how Filipino food can be seen as a new sustainable tourism product: first, Filipinos’ merienda, Philippines’ version of the American all-day breakfast. Filipinos love to eat. There is no question to that. There are no specific hours when Filipinos eat their food. They eat when they want to. Second is the happier meal. Filipinos do not only love their food, but they are happy with their food and by the thought of food. From the process of harvesting the ingredients, the preparation in our own humble kitchens, to the manner of how the dishes are consumed, truly, Filipinos are happy eaters. Each and every meal for us is just purely happy, “we can’t have bad meals” said Sta. Maria.

The combination of heritage tourism and food tourism perfectly showcases what Philippine tourism has to offer to the world. According to Mr. Spanky Hizon Enriquez, Marketing and Social Media Consultant for Philippine restaurants, tourism is a great way to sell Filipino food in the competitive global market. Enriquez pointed out that the existing infrastructures and sites in the country is not the sole viable tourism product. Philippines’ endowed sightings and infrastructures are not enough to paint the colourful culture and history of the Philippines. Filipino food makes the country’s tourism distinct with its great variety, all the way from the northern to the southern parts of the country.

Dr. Michael Angelo A. Cortez

By involving the local community and their unique ways to foster tourism is also a prospective product that the Philippines can offer, said Dr. Michael Angelo A. Cortez, Associate Professor from Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University. Cortez introduced a sustainable tourism framework which involves the local community in the various parts of the country. Cortez said that the potentials in improving Philippine tourism is everywhere and can be anything, citing best practices from Australia and Japan, and ideas ranging from market tourism to cemetery tourism.

From an outside perspective, Philippine tourism can also benefit from the growing number of Muslim travellers worldwide. According to Dr. Nirwan Noh, Undersecretary for Industry Development and Malaysia’s Ministry of Tourism and Culture (MOTAC), there is a great opportunity for the Filipinos in providing high-quality Halal food. By sharing the Malaysian experience as an internationally-certified Halal food and Muslim-friendly country, Noh encouraged to have an internationally certified Philippine Halal food.

Dr. Nirwan Noh

The experts agreed that the potential of food and culture as a sustainable product of the Philippines will only be realized with the involvement of everyone. Sole reliance to government agencies and other stakeholders in the tourism field will not be enough. The translation of potentials to reality cannot solely rely on the work of government agencies and organizations involved in the field of tourism, rather it lies on each and every one of us. Creative tourism ideas can be anything and can come from anyone.

The forum was organized by the AIM Dr. Andrew L. Tan Center for Tourism. Approximately 50 participants from the government, the private sector, and the academe from the travel and tourism industry attended the forum.



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