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International confab on cultural tourism set in Vigan

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ALTHOUGH it hasn’t reached its full potential, Vigan is an excellent example of sustainable community-based cultural tourism.

The International Conference on Cultural Tourism of the  International Council for Monuments and Sites (Icomos) will be held in the City of Vigan, Philippines, Nov. 7-8.

Theme is “Cultural Tourism for Community Development.” Agenda focuses on well-planned sustainable cultural tourism as an under-utilized tool for nation-building and community development.

To be presented are national and international  case studies that document successful projects that have made the connection between heritage, tourism and community development.

The event is organized by the Icomos Philippine Committee in behalf of the Icomos (ICTC), whose vice presidency is held by the Philippines.

Icomos  is the international organization based in Paris that regulates the heritage-conservation profession worldwide and is the official Advisory Body to the Unesco World Heritage Committee for all cultural-heritage issues.

Icomos  membership is divided into 26 International Scientific Committees that focus on different conservation specialties such as archaeological management; risk management; documentation; historic towns and villages; and cultural tourism.

INTRAMUROS has embarked on a tourism and heritage-based development plan that includes community participation.

Members of the International Committee for Cultural Tourism are heritage and tourism practitioners, all active professionals, academics and researchers who have influenced the cultural-tourism field in many ways.

Its most significant contributions have been writing and producing the Tourism Handbook for the UN-World Tourism Organization in Madrid, and, most recently, participation in formulating the Strategy for Sustainable Tourism adopted by the Unesco World Heritage Committee this year.

This is the second conference hosted by Icomos Philippines.  The first was the International Committee on Vernacular Architecture Conference of 2007 which took place when the committee vice presidency was held by the Philippines.

Conference participants were taken on site visits to traditional villages and rice terraces in Ifugao province, location of the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras, a property inscribed on the World Heritage List.

Vigan as venue for this year’s conference is appropriate, as it is an example of a World Heritage Site that has become, through community participation, an emerging tourism destination.

THE HERITAGE center of Iloilo City boosts the potential of urban and community development.

Through this event, expert members of ICTC, Icomos Philippines, and representatives from developing countries of Asia and the Pacific will establish association with national and local officials, government cultural agencies, tourism policy-makers and stakeholders, cultural workers, educators and students to discuss present-day issues on tourism and heritage.

The benefits of community participation in conservation and cultural tourism programs as an essential aspect of cultural tourism and the 40th anniversary of the World Heritage Convention will become the underlying themes of the conference.

In cooperation with the Department of Foreign Affairs, 30 participants from least-developed countries will attend the meeting as trainees in cultural-tourism programming to be established in their own countries.

CEBU’S Gabii sa Kabilin program has successfully put heritage on Cebu’s map and is an example for other cities to follow.

Principal sponsors of the conference are the City Government of Vigan through Mayor Eva Singson Medina; the Provincial Government of Ilocos Sur through Gov. Chavit Singson.

Major sponsors of the conference are Department of Foreign Affairs; Department of Tourism; Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc.; the National Museum of the Philippines; and the Intramuros Administration.

Note that seats are limited, and priority is given to Icomos Philippine committee members.  Professional and student participants will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, and payment of conference fee confirms your slot.

Conference fees:  Professional (P3,500 inclusive of lunch on both days, conference kits); and Undergraduate Student (P600 inclusive of packed lunch on both days, conference kits).

For inquires and registration, e-mail the Conference Secretariat at vigan2012@icomosphilippines.com.

Comments and feedback are welcome at pride.place@gmail.com.


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