MANILA – Developing urban parks and open spaces is one of the Philippines' priorities in diversifying its tourism portfolio for post-pandemic travel.
In the first Philippine Parks Congress on Thursday, Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco expressed hope to see more parks in and outside Metro Manila -- "world-class" ones that both Filipinos and visiting foreigners could enjoy.
"Parks are important because it allows us and our families to commune with nature, to spend quality time with each other, and to remind us that despite how busy life may get, we must always take time to relax, unwind, and spend time to be in touch with nature," she said in a speech.
Frasco said continuous efforts are underway to provide guidance to local government units across the country to help develop their respective parks.
"This can only mean that parks as a component of our culture will only continue to increase in the years ahead. Let us continue to work together and strengthen our resolve to provide the Filipino people with world-class parks," she added.
Meanwhile, she sought for stronger sustainability efforts to make sure public open spaces are protected from the ill effects of unregulated tourism.
At Rizal and Paco Parks alone, she said visitors had already reached 3 million from January to November 2022, up from the 1.5 million recorded from the same period in 2021.
Nayong Pilipino Foundation Executive Director Gertie Duran-Batocabe likewise highlighted the need to make cultural infrastructure and open spaces more inclusive.
"The Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 highlights that cultural infrastructure and open spaces should be more inclusive to allow for dialogue and cultural exchange. Parks promote art, heritage, culture, and other related domain of the Philippine creative industry, and we have seen activities like these help Intramuros recover during the pandemic," she said.
The three-day Parks Congress was held to gather public and private sector stakeholders involved in developing urban parks and green spaces to lay the foundation for creating a national framework for the development of Philippine urban parks. (PNA)