by Joyce Ann L. Rocamora
MANILA — The Masungi Georeserve in Rizal province has won international recognition for its sustainable tourism practices at the annual World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Awards in Saint Petersburg, Russia on Thursday.
The destination was recognized by the UN body as one of the top three privately led sustainable tourism projects among around 200 organizations that were nominated last year.
“When we first started geotourism at Masungi, we hoped that guests would see something special in it as we did. Fast forward to today, the project is receiving its third international nod from no less than the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO),” the Masungi Georeserve said in a statement Thursday.
“Our wish came true, for the world to see something special in a piece of rock that was abandoned many years ago, and for the world to come together to protect it,” it added.
For the 15th year of the UNWTO Awards competition, a total of 190 applications from 71 countries were received in the three categories: Public Policy and Governance, Enterprises, and Non-Governmental Organizations.
Masungi Georeserve was nominated last year as a global finalist for the UNWTO Awards for Enterprises, the flagship awards of the global tourism sector, along with two other nominees from Italy and India.
During the awarding, Masungi Georeserve Foundation showcased its project and its impact on the community in Rizal before over 300 ministers and officials of UN member states present.
The destination, known for its sprawling limestone landscape and trails perched on towering trees, is located at Kilometer 47, Marcos Highway in the town of Baras, Rizal.
For over a decade, the Masungi Georeserve Foundation has sustained and increased measures to protect the 2,700 hectares of vulnerable land, often targeted as a site for quarry and illegal logging.
Although challenges persist in its conservation efforts, the foundation said the UN recognition strengthens their resolve to further protect the destination.
“We will not, as we have not, shy away from facing the complex challenges in conservation and innovation in the Philippine setting. On behalf of the Masungi family, thank you for supporting us in your different ways,” it said.
Early this year, the conservation area was also nominated for the World Travel & Tourism Council’s Destination Stewardship Award. (PNA)