MANILA — A senator on Monday recommended a bigger budget for the restoration of Philippine historical sites noting that it would bring in more tourists and at the same time create more jobs.
In a press statement, Sen. Joel Villanueva expressed frustration on how the government is handling the conservation of the country’s cultural heritage, particularly Intramuros, which only has PHP50-million budget this year, a huge cut from the PHP443 million allocation last year.
He did not mention how much of an increase he wanted but noted that the government should be more active in promoting sustainable planning and management of historical sites such as Intramuros.
“We believe that we can do more when it comes to preserving our cultural heritage by allocating enough budget to fund the restoration and reconstruction efforts of Intramuros in Manila, Barasoain Church in Malolos, Bulacan, Biak na Bato in San Miguel, Bulacan, and other historic heritage to attract more international and domestic tourists,” Villanueva said.
The neophyte senator, together with the Philippine senate delegation, recently met with members of the French senate to discuss how the two nations can work together to promote sustainable tourism policies while recognizing the negative impacts of tourism development on the environment and climate change.
Villanueva said that he believed that if the Philippines followed the tourism development policies of France and develop better infrastructure in the Philippines’ tourism destinations, the country can also reach its maximum tourist arrivals which will open more employment opportunities in the tourism industry.
“France remains to be the world’s leading tourist destination with over 85 million tourist arrivals yearly as it promotes eco-responsible projects such as recycling waste, reducing water and energy use, and responsible sourcing,” Villanueva said.
“Also, France was able to preserve thousands of its monuments and sites that made it attractive to millions of tourists,” he added.
The senator also stressed the importance of protecting nature by cooperation between the public and private sector in terms of promoting sustainable tourism.
“While we want to attract more tourists, we should learn our lessons from Boracay which self-destructs due to poor planning and inappropriate sewerage system. We therefore urge all stakeholders to participate in raising awareness about sustainable tourism and promoting earth-friendly tourism practices,” Villanueva said.