The inclusion of Batanes Islands, facilitated by 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), marks a significant achievement in the Philippines’ pursuit of sustainable tourism.

Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco expressed her delight following the official announcement by the UNWTO on Tuesday evening (Philippine Time), welcoming Batanes Islands into its growing International Network of Sustainable Tourism Observatories.

Secretary Frasco actively supported Batanes Islands’ application for INSTO membership through a formal endorsement letter to UNWTO Chief, dated March 31, 2023. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Embassy of the Philippines in Madrid, Spain, provided essential assistance in the endorsement process.

Batanes Islands, renowned for its breathtaking views overlooking the Pacific Ocean, becomes the first tourist destination in the Philippines to be chosen as an INSTO Network member.

“The Department of Tourism is delighted with the inclusion of Batanes Islands in the highly regarded UNWTO International Network of Sustainable Tourism Observatories. We congratulate the Batanes Tourism Hospitality Monitoring Center and thank them for inspiring local destinations to prioritize sustainability, greatly benefiting Philippine Tourism. We hope to add more destinations to this global network in the future,” said Secretary Frasco, emphasizing that “sustainability must be at the core of development for destinations to thrive until the next generations.”

According to UNWTO’s press release, the Batanes Observatory will be led by the Batanes Tourism Hospitality Monitoring Center (BTHMC), a research group responsible for monitoring tourism sustainability on the islands. Collaborating with the province and local stakeholders, the observatory is committed to supporting the sustainable development of tourism based on evidence and a participatory approach. These commitments are crucial for building a sustainable and resilient tourism sector, ensuring benefits for the local people, the Ivatans, and visitors, while preserving environmental and cultural conservation.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili expressed his pleasure at welcoming the Batanes Observatory as a new member of the INSTO network. He highlighted the importance of measurement for destinations, providing a better understanding of their standing and future direction.

Despite occasional challenges posed by strong typhoons due to its location, Batanes Islands continues to captivate tourists with its majestic sceneries, unique flora and fauna, and resilient indigenous population known as the Ivatans. The traditional stone houses, some proclaimed as heritage sites, withstand challenging weather conditions, showcasing the Ivatans’ resilience and hospitality.

Currently, UNWTO INSTO operates in nations such as the United States, Spain, Brazil, Greece, Thailand, and Indonesia, with China having the highest number of INSTO observatories.

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