Home » Travel & Food » Philippines – First UN Tourism Regional Forum on Gastronomy Tourism for Asia and the Pacific held in Cebu

Philippines – First UN Tourism Regional Forum on Gastronomy Tourism for Asia and the Pacific held in Cebu


3 mins read

The first ever UN Tourism Regional Forum on Gastronomy Tourism for Asia and the Pacific was successfully inaugurated at The Marquee Shangri-La Mactan on 26th June 2024. The nearly 600 global delegates participating in the two-day event, 26-27 June 2024, were treated to a grand display of Cebu’s sights, sounds, and taste.

Co-organized by the Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT), the UN Tourism, and the Basque Culinary Center, the event gathered participants from UN member-states, affiliate members, and tourism stakeholders from national and international organizations.  A first of its kind in Asia and the Pacific the forum seeks to become a platform to celebrate the power of gastronomy tourism by bringing together destinations and international experts in an exchange of knowledge and best practices, in order to fully harness the transformative power of gastronomy tourism, especially its benefits to local communities and the environment.

Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco, UN Tourism Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, BCC Director of Masters and Courses Idoia Calleja, Lapu-Lapu City Lone District Representative Ma. Cynthia “Cindi” King Chan, Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard Chan, UN Tourism Ambassador for Gastronomy Tourism Chef Vicky Cheng of VEA Restaurant in Hong Kong, and foreign dignitaries led the ceremonial pouring of rice into a giant pusô, a rice cake made by boiling rice in a woven pouch of palm leaves that serves as a major culinary pride of Cebuanos, one of the diverse gastronomic offerings that can be found in the Philippines.

Indian participation saw officials from the Government of India’s Ministry of Tourism and the India Food Tourism Organization (IFTO). The IFTO delegation was led by President Dr Chef Rajeev Goyal and Hon. Secretary Ms. Shikha Gupta.

The Philippines holds the honor of hosting this inaugural UN Tourism forum, after its election as Chair of the Commission for East Asia and the Pacific during the 55th Meeting of the UNWTO Regional Commission for East Asia and the Pacific held in Cambodia last June 16, 2023.
“We’re deeply honored by the confidence conferred upon our nation by United Nations Tourism and its member states to host this inaugural global event that brings together ministers, heads of delegation, heads of mission, experts, stakeholders, enthusiasts from over 40 countries from around the world and Asia Pacific to celebrate gastronomy, to develop and promote tourism, and to cultivate the symbiotic relationship of these two sectors that assures their and our mutual success,” Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco said.

UN Tourism Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, said that under his helm, he wants to leave a legacy to the organization and among his proposals is to establish an educational gastronomy center in the Philippines, particularly in Cebu as the country hosts the prestigious event for the first time.  “We know that education is the top priority for your tourists, and we will support this initiative to help the progress of UN Tourism,” he added.

BCC Director of Masters and Courses Idoia Calleja emphasized gastronomy tourism’s massive potential in promoting community’s well-being, transforming societies’ socio-economic needs, saying “Gastronomy is one of the sectors that show the way of life. When we travel we like to discover the local cuisines, destinations, restaurants, the taste, products, traditions, and to be able to have an authentic experience,” citing how many destinations have brought gastronomy front and center, driving employment and business opportunities for the entire value chain.

According to Secretary Frasco, Cebu, with over half a millennia of recorded history and deeply embedded cultural heritage, serves as a ‘fitting venue’ for the delegates’ gastronomic explorations and discussions. In her opening remarks, she then took guests through a journey through Cebu’s rich history and its significance in Philippine history. The country’s vast and varied cultural and culinary influences including from the Spanish, the Chinese, and Americans have complimented the foundation of the country’s Malay heritage and indigenous origins that have come to define the Filipino identity.

The Regional Lunch which featured a remarkable coming together of regional chefs from all 16 regions of the country to showcase their native dishes and exemplify the richness of Filipino flavors.  The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) participated together with partners from the private sector such as Mang Inasal, Destileria Limtuaco,  and Chocolate Chamber.

In addition to the UN Tourism Regional Forum on Gastronomy Tourism for Asia and the Pacific, the Philippines hosted the 36th Joint Commission Meeting of the Commission for East Asia and the Pacific and the Commission for South Asia (CAP-CSA) on 28 June 2024.


Related Articles

Leave a Comment

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Privacy & Cookies Policy