A testament to what man can achieve when it works with nature, the Banaue rice terraces in the Philippines are renowned for their beautiful aesthetics and bountiful yield.
Carved into the mountains of Ifugao some 2000 years ago, the hand-hewn terraces are the rice bowl of the region, as well as a tourist attraction.
But until now travellers have had to be pretty determined to see them: it can take up to 10 hours to reach Banaue by bus from the Filipino capital, Manila, which has put many people off visiting.
"The roads are fine and the bus is fast, it's just a really long way," said Filipino journalist, Tata Mapa, who made the journey recently.
However, new flights to nearby Bagabag Airport promise to slash the time it takes to reach Banaue, ushering in a new era of tourism for the region.
Those flights will start in May, courtesy of Wakay Air Services, and depart four times a week from the city of Clark, which is well connected to Manila. They will take around an hour and the transfer from Bagabag Airport to Banaue will take another hour; so even when you factor in the inevitable waiting around at airports, the journey time will be more than halved.
But is that a good thing? The remoteness of Banaue has hitherto protected the historic site from the pitfalls of mass tourism – erosion, litter, resource scarcity – and a sudden influx of tourists will inevitably have an impact on the area.
"There is definitely a danger that the balance of the environment will be threatened with more tourists coming in," Mapa said. "But that's the case with most places around the world."
Paradoxically, tourists could actually prove the saviour of this ancient landmark, which is suffering from a range of threats, chiefly neglect: as more young people abandoned Banaue for the bright lights of the city or foreign shores, the region's population is decreasing and ageing, leaving fewer people to tend the terraces.
"If there is a surge in tourism then it's possible that more of the locals will stay home and have more sustainable employment," said Mapa.
Tourism may also supplement the incomes of impoverished local farmers, enabling them to invest more money into the maintenance of the rice terraces, which have to be periodically rebuilt due to soil erosion and inclement weather.
Often described as the "eighth wonder of the world" – an unofficial status it shares with numerous other landmarks – two of Banaue's terraces, the Bangaan and Batad, form part of a wider World Heritage Site.
"The terraces illustrate a persistence of cultural traditions and remarkable continuity and endurance, since archaeological evidence reveals that this technique has been in use in the region for 2000 years virtually unchanged," said Unesco.
"They offer many lessons for application in similar environments elsewhere."
The Telegraph, London
Listen: Flight of Fancy - the Traveller.com.au podcast with Ben Groundwater
To subscribe to the Traveller.com.au podcast Flight of Fancy on iTunes, click here.