Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco affirmed the Department of Tourism’s (DOT) support for the development of parks during her keynote address at the opening of the 1st Philippine Parks Congress at the Rizal Park Open Air Auditorium on 24 November (Thursday).
“The Department of Tourism extends its full support to the efforts of the national parks as well as our attached agencies to continue to develop the culture of tourism, which includes the continued development of our parks not only here in the National Capital Region (NCR) but also all over the Philippines,” Secretary Frasco said.
“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 and commune with the Earth,” she added.
Based on her earlier directive, Secretary Frasco disclosed that the DOT, through its concerned attached agencies has already begun reaching out to the local government units (LGUs) across the Philippines to provide them assistance and guidance in the development of parks within their jurisdiction.
“One of our objectives is to ensure that we are able to provide continued opportunities for tourism product development across the country by lending the expertise of the DOT as well as its attached agencies towards efforts at educating and building capabilities of LGUs and private individuals that may be interested in partnering with us pursuant to our development of product, of tourism product portfolios,” said Secretary Frasco.
The 1st Philippine Parks Congress, with the theme “Growing healthier, more livable cities through urban parks,” gathered public and private sector stakeholders involved in developing urban parks and green spaces across the Philippines to lay the foundation for creating a national framework for the development of Philippine urban parks.
Keynote Speaker, Jelle Hendrik Therry of Ramboll opened with a lecture on urban parks design from a global perspective and Paulo Alcazaren of PGAA Creative Design provided a lecture on the history of urban parks in the Philippines. Other speakers shed light on their respective organizations, agencies, and companies by sharing their unique experiences, best practices, and technical services in maintaining and operating public parks and open spaces.
A culminating awards ceremony for the Paco Park Design Competition was also held in partnership with the Women’s Leadership Initiative of the Urban Land Institute Philippines (ULI) to all-female design teams to raise the profile of women in the design field.
“While there’s still momentum and support for the development of more parks nationwide, now is also the time to push for legislation to create an authority for parks and open spaces that will be truly national in scope and can provide guidelines to our LGUs,” said Cecille Lorenzana Romero, Executive Director of National Parks Development Committee (NPDC).
Nayong Pilipino Foundation (NPF) Executive Director Gertie Duran-Batocabe emphasized that parks and greenspaces should be part of the “better normal”.
“As you all know, the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered important conversations about the importance of urban green spaces and how those should be designed to benefit the health and well-being of the local population not just to promote sustainable development for our community, but also to attract tourists and enhance the tourism experience,” Duran-Batocabe said.
Data from the NPDC revealed that urban park visitors have already reached over 3 million from January to November 2022, an increase of over 50 percent compared to the over 1.5 million visitors in 2021.
Organized by the DOT, NPDC, NPF, Intramuros Administration (IA), Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) Philippines, and ULI in partnership with the City of Manila, City of Baguio and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) the inaugural Philippine Parks Congress is also a celebration and a recognition of the 60th Founding Anniversary of the NPDC and 50th Founding Anniversary of NPF.