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Love the green? Travel green in Negros Occidental!

Countryside, Crafts & Culinary delights Travel green to Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, the Philippine’s foremost sustainable agri-tourism and organic farm capital. Step back in time to the countryside, re-living turn  of the century old towns and haciendas, feeling a sense of green and tranquility as you traverse along undulating sugarcane fields. Take an eco-trip to a rainforest and marine reserve, learn the importance of coastal biodiversity conservation to combat climate change and savor exquisite Negrense cuisine from freshest exotic seafood to healthy options of organic farms and produce.

Rapha Valley, Don Salvador Benedicto

Rapha Valley, Don Salvador Benedicto

Focal Points:

  • Visit remarkable churches, stately mansions, and diverse organic farms
  • Enjoy culinary delights from traditional home style cooking to East-West fusion, with a wide array of seafood, organic and healthy options.
  • Buy local, support local – world-class handicrafts, from exclusive factory visits, to community and producers’ shops, souvenirs showroom.

    Handmade Gallery Useful Gifts

    Buy local, support local. Eco-friendly, world-class arts and craft abound in Bacolod City! Photo via Handmade Gallery.

Foremost Jaunts:

Organic Farms & Sustainable Agri Tours: North, Central & Southern loops.

Sustainable Agri Tour- Northern Loop, Negros Occidental

Sustainable Agri Tour- Northern Loop, Negros Occidental

Souther Farms Loop

Souther Farms Loop

Central Farms Loop

Central Farms Loop

Don Salvador Benedicto (DSB)Rapha Valley

DSB's Rice Terraces. Enjoy it while it's clean and green!

DSB’s Rice Terraces. Enjoy it while it’s clean and green!

Danjugan Island

Danjugan Island

Danjugan Island

GET INSPIRED!

Green Weddings & Events (M.I.C.E) 

Green weddings and events at Nature's Village Resort. Photo via midorimoon.com

Green weddings and events at Nature’s Village Resort. Photo via midorimoon.com

 Stay green!

Nature's Village Resort, Negros Occidental, ASEAN Green Hotel Awardee

Nature’s Village Resort, Negros Occidental, ASEAN Green Hotel Awardee

 Ecofriendly Family Getaway & Educational trips

Danjugan Island Environmental Education Program

Danjugan Island Environmental Education Program

SUGGESTED ITINERARY – 4 DAYS/3 NIGHTS

To make the most of your visit and trip, stay no less than 4 days/3 nights, otherwise, before you know it, you’ll be planning your next vacay again!

Don Salvador Benedicto Waterfalls

  • Day 1- Arrival, Check in at Nature’s Village Resort. Bacolod City Half Day tour
  • Day 2 – Full Day Tour, Southern & Central Loop, Overnight at Rapha Valley
  • Day 3 – Full Day Tour – Northern Loop & Souvenir Shopping, Overnight at Nature’s Village Resort
  • Day 4 – Departure

For more information and reservations, please send us a message.

 “We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.”

Discover Danjugan Island – the Philippines’ conservation pioneer

“We saved an island…now we invite you to EXPLORE it.”

Danjugan Island

History

It was in 1974 when Gerry Ledesma, first visited Danjugan Island with some of his diving mates. Its thick limestone forests hosted many different kinds of birds and bats; its underwater was so clear with schools of fish and magnificent, intact coral reefs.  Scuba diving became popular and most divers then were spear fishers—and at the end of each dive day, tall stories were told about the sharks seen —there were tigers in the outer reefs surrounding the island and white/black tipped in the nearby reefs– and the big fish that got away.

Danjugan

Photo credits Danjugan Island Facebook Page

The early 1980s saw the decline of scuba diving due to the economic crisis brought upon by the government’s mismanagement of the sugar industry that most of the divers in Negros depended on.  1984 was a bad year too for Danjugan Island as Maricalum Mining Corp (MMC) stopped operations and its displaced workers started destructive fishing with blasting caps and cyanide from MMC.  The year also brought Typhoon Nitang that destroyed the shallow reefs of the island as well as in the entire foreshore of municipalities of Cauayan, Sipalay, and Hinobaan. The years of early to mid 90s emphasized the need for Danjugan’s conservation with episodes of logging and poaching and this finally provoked the offer to buy the island but Gerry didn’t have money. William Oliver, a British zoologist working on Negros endangered wildlife species, suggested contacting John Burton of the World Land Trust (WLT) whose thrust is the purchase of important biodiversity sites for conservation.  Soon, a noted marine scientist from the UK, Sue Wells, came to visit and not long after, Peter Raines of Coral Cay Conservation (CCC).  Then, an invitation to England for the launch of the Philippine Reef and Rainforest Project (PRRP) and within a month, a fund was transferred to PRRP for the down payment of Danjugan Island.

Danjugan Directors

Danjugan Island Marine & Wildlife Camp led by Gerry Ledesma, PRRCFI founder.  (right) 

The Philippine Reef and Rainforest Conservation Foundation, Inc. (PRRCFI) was established to manage and operate the PRRP, as well as the conservation program based on Danjugan Island that was expanded to include Southern Negros Occidental.  Due to the ignorance of marine and wildlife conservation, the group piloted the 1st Youth Marine Camp in 1991 with their children and children of friends and relatives.  The camp had pleasing results and children from the village of Bulata were included in the subsequent camps.  Presently, the camps are conducted each summer as the Youth Marine and Wildlife Camp and with the Philippine Department of Education as the Danjugan Environment Education Project (DEEP).

Location & Biodiversity

Resting 3 kilometers southwest off the coast of Negros Occidental, Danjugan is a lush, 43-hectare island rich in marine and terrestrial biodiversity. This island, about 1.5 kilometers long and 0.5 kilometers at its widest point, has 5 lagoons and is covered with limestone forests providing asylum to many wildlife species that struggle to exist in the mainland.

Together with Sipalay City and the Municipality of Hinobaan, it forms the southern border of the province and is situated in the Sulu Sea, an important eco-region for marine biodiversity.  The island’s surrounding reef is under the Danjugan Island Marine Reserve and Sanctuaries with three Special Management Areas or No Take Zones established in 2000 through Cauayan Municipal Ordinance 99-52.

Danjugan seagrass

Danjugan Island protects three major! marine ecosystems: sea grass, coral reefs and mangroves! Photo via Danjugan Facebook Page. 

It holds an incredible biodiversity given its small size. At least 72 bird species have been recorded on the island, including a nesting pair of White- breasted Sea Eagles Heliatus leucogaster that have been breeding atop Typhoon Beach Camp since 1974 and  Tabon scrub fowls Megapodius cumingi which are common around the island.

Danjugan Camp.jpg

Danjugan Island “DEEP Camp”. Photo via Danjugan Facebook Page. 

Danjugan Island Environmental Education Program

Increasing environmental awareness in the youth has been one of the major priorities of PRRCFI. The Danjugan Island Environmental Education Program (DEEP), funded by the Foundation of the Philippine Environment (FPE), endeavors to teach Biodiversity Conservation, Sustainable Development, Climate Change Issues and Values to teachers and elementary/highschool students of Cauayan, Sipalay and Hinobaan municipalities in Southern Negros. These are where the last remaining good coral reefs in Negros Occidental remain. DEEP attempts to inspire to teach students to be stewards of the environment.

Danjugan Island Environmental Education Program

Danjugan Island Environmental Education Program

 

The DEEP was implemented starting June 2011. In the two years that it was executed, it aimed to address the shortcomings of environment education by delivering modules on biodiversity, marine and terrestrial wildlife awareness, climate change adaptation and mitigation, sustainability, and principles of responsible ecological stewardship to select public school teachers, students, barangay councils, and  LGUs.

 

Genuine green ecotourism

“We saved an island…now we invite you to EXPLORE it.”

Danjugan Island is now open on a limited capacity basis for visitors, to experience ecotourism at its purest: learn about the biodiversity within the area, its conservation efforts, eco-friendly facilities to include eco cabanas, solar powered electricity, communal served meals based on native cuisine and seasonally-available local produce and services offered by the locals within.

Make a difference and travel green to Danjugan!

You may also support its programs in environmental conservation and education when you visit. For more information and and travel assistance about our Green Travel Exchange, contact us.

The Danjugan Island is part of our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc.-SSTDINegros Occidental initiative, the sustainable tourism development & stewardship program for the province.

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Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc.-SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Educational programs for hotels, destinations – LGUs, host communities,  private stakeholders and the grassroots and tour operators with Global Sustainable Tourism Council criteria. Training programs for Destinations, Hotels, Tour Operators and Industry in general include Environmental ConservationGood Governance, Climate Resilience. The objective is to address global challenges of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals: poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability and climate change. WASTE TO ENERGY solutions are now offered to LGUs for their ecological solidwaste management and renewable energy solutions. For more information and assistance, contact us.

 

Ecotourism 101. Ecotourism Essentials

In 1975 Inkaterra built a lodge for scientists long before ecotourism was trendy

In 1975 Inkaterra, sustainable tourism pioneer and conservation leader, built a lodge for scientists long before ecotourism was trendy. 

Along with other resource persons, namely Harro Boekhold of Contour Projects and Mr. Joselito Bernardo of the Asian Productivity Organization, we conducted the Train the Trainers in Ecotourism Planning & Management Course at the International School of Sustainable Tourism, in Subic Bay, Philippines. Apparently, among the Asia Pacific participants, there is still much confusion and ambiguities of the term “Ecotourism”.

Ecological Research and Conservation Funded By Tourism

Inkaterra: ECOlogical research and conservation funded by TOURISM. Scientific research for biodiversity is the baseline of profitable conservation, education and economic growth of local communities. 

 

Not surprisingly, more so for the travel and tourism suppliers and market. Unfortunately the “eco” trend in the past years has triggered the travel industry to inundate the market with misused and misunderstoodeco -labeled tourism products, from hotel accommodations to tours, from lodges to excursions, causing misrepresentation and misunderstandingamong travelers from the tourism industry as to what the term “ecotourism” genuinely embodies.

Danjugan Island Marine Biodiversity - all researched and recorded.

Danjugan Island Marine Biodiversity – all researched recorded, and protected to let others learn from it. 

So once and for all, we are clarifying the essence and emphasizing thebasic elements of Ecotourism.

  • Aims to conserve biodiversity
  • Sustains the well being of local people
  • Includes a learning experience
  • Requires lowest possible consumption of non-renewable resources
  • Stresses local participation, ownership and business opportunities, particularly for rural people

If your destination, property or activities does not have ALL of the above essential elements, then it is NOT “ecotourism”. In addition to these ecological essentials, Ecotourism has also these fundamental nature, no pun intended:

  • A greater focus on authenticity in terms of destinations, products and experiences
  • It is “Green consumerism” – increased environmental awarenessand concern about issues such as climate change and global warming
  • Sustainability should be at the heart of every tourism business and tourism product
  • Every tourism component- transport, accommodation, activities – should be ‘eco-friendly’
  • Ecotourism suppliers must keep it simple and sincere – genuine “green”!

Common ‘Eco confusion’:

  • “Green washing”: doing green vs. being green: just because you plant a tree, does not mean yours is already an ecotourism company. Must always have all the FIVE elements: not 4, 3,  2 or 1 only!
  • Must not be confused with Community-based tourism, Pro-poor tourism, Nature tourism, Adventure travel. As mentioned, all thefive eco essentials must be in place. ‘Nuff said.

Third Lagoon, Danjugan Island. “We saved an island. Now we invite you to explore it!”  Photo via Liwanag Aristoza San Miguel.

To date, Ecotourism is just tiny niche of the global tourism market, has no traction yet and has just started to be mainstreamed. Tourism has an enormous potential, but without principles that fosters responsibility and sustainability it can harm our planet and wreck havoc to the fragile or climate vulnerable tourism destinations.

So no more confusions, no doubt about it. Don’t be misled by all the “eco-ish” labels. Just memorize the 5 ECO elements; YOU cannot go wrong. Go green!

Take a PERU DREAM TRIP  by Inkaterra, Peru’s Eco Pioneer and Conservation Leader since 1975; 100% Carbon Neutral travel and stay, any day departure. For more information and travel assistance about our Green Travel Exchange and Green Hotels stay, contact us.

Machu PicchuRe-visted in 2008

Travel with a difference in our green getaways  such as our Negros Agri-Tours, discover Danjugan Island, a true ecotourism destination, Don Salvador Benedicto’ (DSB) for a health and wellness break, and Care for Coron Island-  all meaningful journeys that touches the soul!

Iconic Kayangan Cove. Photo taken from Kayangan View Point, Coron Island

Iconic Kayangan Cove. Photo taken from Kayangan View Point, Coron Island

Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. -SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Training programs to public and private stakeholders, host communities and grassroots in sustainable tourism development & stewardship to include Good Governance, Climate Change Mitigation Disaster Preparedness and ManagementWaste to Energy projects are offered to LGUs for their ecological solidwaste management and renewable energy solutions. For more information and assistance, contact us. 

SSTDI is proud to be part of the Founding Board of the ASIAN ECOTOURISM NETWORKAEN LOGO

 

Photo credits: Inkaterra, Peru’s Eco Conservation Leader since 1975, PRRCFI for Danjugan Island & Al Linsangan III for Coron photo.


Will Don Salvador Benedicto take up the eco conservation challenge?

Foreword. Don Salvador Benedicto (DSB) is a proponent of The Negros Occidental Initiative  the Sustainable Tourism, Conservation and Social Responsibility framework  proposed by our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development, Inc. (SSTDI) for the province,  with institutional partners Green Hotels, The Clean Blue & Zero Carbon Resorts.  SSTDI  is leading the way forward for the province in espousing Sustainable Tourism: cultural, culinary, conservation experiences in DSB and other sites such as Danjugan Island and Sustainable Agri-Tourism circuits.

The Visayan Daily Star recently reported in their November 12, 2014 issue that the Negros Occidental Protected Area Management Board voted 34-11, with one abstention, against the demolition of illegal structures in the multiple use zone of the Northern Negros Natural Park (NNNP) protected area. The latest vote endangers the province’s last frontier and water source, according to the Governor Alfredo Maranon who voted “yes” to the demolition of the illegal structures.  The Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) had earlier issued cease-and-desist orders (CDO) to 91 individuals halting the construction of “illegal structures” in the multiple-use zone of Salvador Benedicto. Per PENRO Director, structures located in areas identified under the Disaster Risk Reduction Management Act and do not have PAMB clearance in consonance with the NIPAS Act are considered illegal. The Governor added that the NNNP is Negros Occidental’s last frontier; it used to have 100,000 hectares of forest and is the main source of water for the province’s people and for food production, however, now, very little remains.

Don Salvador Benedicto Malatan-og Falls

The youngest municipality of Negros OccidentalDon Salvador Benedicto more popularly know for its acronym “DSB” is situated 2,495 feet above sea level at the mid-center of the province, 47 kilometers of good highway from capital city, Bacolod.  Its composite jurisdiction  includes two barangays (barrios) from Murcia town, three from San Carlos City and two of Calatrava. Established as a town in 1983, it was intended to consolidate the area into a separate and independent local government unit to counter the insurgency concentrated here.  The town got its name in honor of the late Vice-Governor Salvador Benedicto, who was part in setting the Revolutionary Government of Negros Island and Siquijor during the Japanese occupation last World War II.

DSB’s Rice Terraces. Enjoy it while it’s clean and green and no illegal structures obstructing the view!

Today, this newfound town has surpassed geographical, economic and social challenges, with its 10-year strategic master plan for residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural & fishery development zones and because of this became a budding “eco” attraction in the province, albeit raw and emergent.

DSB Villa Ica

Though DSB is still pretty much rural, almost like a big barrio, it has already literally paved the way for bigger things to come, such as its infrastructure: impeccable picturesque highway that is the envy and self-touted “most beautiful” in the country. Its climate is moderate; cool for Philippine tropical standards with an even rainfall distribution throughout the year.

DSB’s Kali-kalihan Festival. Photo via DSB website.

Among its rural attractions are historical Barangay Igmaya-an, one of the strongholds of the province’s Revolutionary Government during the Japanese Occupation; the Monument in honor of its namesake, Don Salvador Benedicto; the picturesque mountain ranges of Mt. Mandalaganand Mt. Canla-on;  the remarkable Rice Terraces, a mini-replica of Banaue’s; alluring Malatan-og Falls amidst the lush green forest, ideal for mountain trekking; the 45-meter Hanging Bridge at Barangay Igmaya-an,  the “zig-zag” Road leading to the town and the impressive scenic freeway which provided the shortest route between San Carlos, the farthest city of the province to Bacolod, as well as network links to the rest of the Northern towns and cities. DSB prides itself with indigenous tribes still existing in the area and its folkloric fiesta “Kali-kalihan” commemorating the Feast of the Kali, a long lost culture of genuine Filipino heritage and the oldest form of weaponry, the “Arnis or Escrima.”

DSB Officials at the Tourism Planning workshop

DSB officials are willing and able to work towards sustainable development with its community based rural and agri tourism. However, protecting and conserving its natural environment and resources will be a realy challenge for the public and private stakeholders.

with Tourism Officers and Cultural Consultant, Maeng Java

Last March 2011, I re-visited DSB and gave a talk and presentation on Sustainable Tourism & Best Green Hospitality Practices, emphasizing the need to conserve its natural resources, with careful consideration for the local community while it embarks on new tourism development to ensure its sustainability for future generations.  Attended by DSB’s town officials and educators, invited guests from First District of the province comprised of councilors, tourism officers and civic leaders were present.

Act from “Anagas” the musical, original Hiligaynon musical written & directed by Ismael Java.

Several acts from “Anagas” was especially presented by DSB’s Cultural Consultant, play director and writer, Ismael JavaAnagas is an original Hiligaynon (regional dialect) theatrical presentation with a profound message about the environment.

With this visit and talk with DSB stakeholders, we hope that public and private stakeholders will be enlightened about the preservation of their town’s rich natural resources and will work together with The Negros Initiative, Conservation, Community Social Responsibility & Sustainable Tourism framework.

SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Training programs to public and private stakeholders, host communities and grassroots in sustainable tourism development & stewardship to include Good Governance, Climate Change Mitigation Disaster Preparedness and ManagementWaste to Energy projects are offered to LGUs for their ecological solidwaste management and renewable energy solutions. For more information and assistance, contact us. 

Green Travel Tips

How to travel GREEN! Travel responsibly. Build lasting memories while protecting the communities/ regions you will travel to! These sustainable tourismtips will enhance your trip—and help you make a positive difference in the places you visit.

Isla Dibatoc, Coron, Palawan

Isla Dibatoc, Coron, Palawan

Before you travel

Find out as much as possible. The more you know about a World Heritage Site or Marine Protected Area, the more the site will come alive. Look into the site’s history, culture, natural environment, customs, legends, advisory notices, and more.

Learn a few words in the local language. Make an effort to speak the local language. Simple words like “Hello,” “Please,” and “Thank you” can go a long way to help you communicate with the people who know the site best—they’ll appreciate your efforts and your interest in learning.

Pack light. It’s tempting to pack everything you think you might need, but remember to be smart about your necessities.Packaging items like the plastic wrapping of your new toothbrush simply consume space in your bag and can create excess trash for the fragile sites.

Stay green. Shangrila Hotel Boracay with CSR & green initiatives.

Choose lodging thoughtfully. Look for eco-friendly hotelsthat have written procedures for environmental impact, employment, and cultural policies.

Explore transportation options. Traveling affects the environment. Wherever possible, try to minimize your impact by looking to alternative transportation and off-setting your carbon emissions.

Calamianes Group of Islands Palawan

The Coron Initiative by CCCNI. Do green. Stay green for the future generations.

During your trip

Engage in local culture. The saying, “When in Rome do as the Romans” still applies today. Your trip provides a unique opportunity to explore a new culture and to see the world through a different perspective. Enjoying local foods, shopping in local markets, and attending local festivals are all part ofexperiencing the culture.

Handmade Gallery Useful Gifts

Shop Local. Eat local. Spend local. Enjoy local. It takes you to start the trend. Photo: export-quality products fromHandmade Gallery, Negros Occidental

Buy local products and services. Choosing to supportlocally-owned businesses, community tour operators, and artisans means that you’ll have a one-of-a-kind experience and your money will go directly to the community. Before purchasing goods, ask about their origin. Avoid buying products made from threatened natural resources and report poaching and other illegal activities to the local authorities.

Refrain from aggressive bargaining. It’s often difficult to know your limits in bargaining, so if you’re not sure, ask your hotel for tips. Remember that the purchases you make directly affect vendors’ livelihoods, so decide if you really need to hang onto that extra dollar.

Hire local guides. Enrich your experience by choosing local guides who are knowledgeable about the destination. Ask local tour operators and hotels for recommendations.

Machu Picchu, Peru

Step forward without footprints. Tourism for the people, planet, profit.

Tread lightly. Some destinations are World Heritage sites or Marine Protected Areas because of their exceptional natural or cultural splendor. Do your part to keep them that way by following designated trails, respecting caretakers, and not removing archaeological or biological treasures from sites.

Respect the natural environment. Reduce, reuse, and recycle. Even though you are just visiting and not paying the utility bill, disposing of your garbage properly and minimizing your consumption of water and energy will benefit the overall destination.

Think of the Big Picture. While it is important to support local economy, certain tourist activities and souvenirs can damage a fragile World Heritage site. Say “no” to a souvenir that’s a piece of the site itself, and to tourist activities that may be harmful to a site’s longevity.

Say “no” to a souvenir that's a piece of the site itself!

Say “no” to a souvenir that’s a piece of the site itself! ~ Sustainable Beach Management by The Clean Blue.

After returning home

Share tips about responsible travel. In addition to telling family and friends about the wonderful memories you made, also consider sharing tipson how they too can positively impact these destinations while having an amazing journey.

Explore more. Travel is just the start of learning. Once you return home, continue exploring and being involved with the issues or region that captured your attention. Build your knowledge.

Give back. Traveling often opens our eyes and our hearts. Help to preserve these inspirational destinations for generations to come by making a donation to programs that give back and benefit the local community.

Adopted_a_village_Coron Ecotours

Support or donate to The Coron Initiative Environmental Conservation & Educational programs to benefit the grassroots of Coron & Calamianes.

GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE is taking its toll on the planet, wrecking havoc and destruction to our natural environment, rural communities and even big cities! We have to do our part in leaving less impact to the environment. The message is RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL: let us protect the environment, care about local communities and respect their culture as we explore, experience and enjoy.

Join our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. SSTDI- advocating green, eco-friendly and responsible travel. Learn more about greening your destination and how to make your home community sustainable. Promote your eco destination,  hotel, resort, lodging, restaurant, festival, event venue or hospitality services, spa or sports, transport, real estate development or any tourism-related enterprise espousing green or sustainable practices through our Green Travel Exchange.  Travel with a difference in Green Getaways  such as our Negros Agri-Tours, discover Danjugan Island, a true ecotourism destination, Don Salvador Benedicto’ (DSB) for a health and wellness getaway, and Care for Coron Island-  meaningful journeys that touches the soul!

Take a PERU DREAM TRIP  by Inkaterra, Peru’s Eco Pioneer and Conservation Leader since 1975; 100% Carbon Neutral travel and stay, any day departure. For more information and travel assistance about our Green Travel Exchange and Green Hotels stay, contact us.

 

Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc.-SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Educational programs for hotels, destinations – LGUs, host communities,  private stakeholders and the grassroots and tour operators with Global Sustainable Tourism Council criteria. Training programs for Destinations, Hotels, Tour Operators and Industry in general include Environmental ConservationGood Governance, Climate Resilience. The objective is to address global challenges of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals: poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability and climate change. WASTE TO ENERGY solutions are now offered to LGUs for their ecological solidwaste management and renewable energy solutions. For more information and assistance, contact us.

Source: Expedia Travel World Heritage tips.

Photo credits: Al3 Photography for Coron photo.  

Negros Occidental, Sustainable Agri Tourism destination

In 2010, while working on The Boracay & Coron Initiatives I took a side trip to my home province sugar land Negros Occidental in southern Philippines. Upon request of Tita Sonia Sarrosa, energetic CEO of 2010 ASEAN Green Hotel Awardee Nature’s Village Resort, I did a stopover to give a talk and presentation on Conservation, Social Responsibility and Sustainable Tourism.   I was happy to learn that in fact, Negros Occidental became the first organic province and aims to be the organic bowl of Asia.

A select group of Provincial officials and private tourism stakeholderswere waiting patiently for my delayed flight to listen to my presentation, gleaned from my first hand experience with Inkaterra, Peru’s Eco pioneer and Conservation Leader since 1975.

With children-guides at the Museo Sang Bata Negros in Sagay

Next day, we visited Sagay City, south of the province, home of Museo sang Bata Sa Negros (Children’s Interactive Marine Museum).  The Museum size, design and exhibits were originally intended for children but it is an attraction for visitors of all ages, too. Its focus is to educate primarily, children  on Coastal Marine resources especially of nearby Carbin Reef Marine Reserve. However the Museum also serves as a Welcome Center for all guests, offering a brief intro about Sagay’s marine biodiversity, conservation programs and a small hall dedicated to Sagay’s son, the late Governor Joseph Maranon. Several children act as guides in each mini-exhibit and their spiels are heartwarming and interesting not only for kids but also for adults

Carbin Reef Marine Sanctuary, a coral-reef restoration site

Just a quick motor boat ride from the pier across the water, we island-hopped to Carbin Reef Sandbar, the visitors’ base to the 200 hectareMarine Sanctuary. The tongue shaped white sand bar is open for day visitors on a limited capacity for swimming, snorkeling or scuba diving.

From Carbin Reef, we took a brief ride to Barangay Vito, where we took the motorboat to Molocaboc Island. We were graciously welcomed by the Barangay Captain and residents who offered us an exquisite lunch of native seafood, proudly produced by the island. Molocaboc has no fresh water resource, thus all residents make use of large earthen jars for rain water catchment to have water supply.

Japanese NGO’s visit the island yearly to do their outreach programs to include mangrove reforestation and sea ranching (a sustainable way of aquaculture & fishing). We then took a quick visit to the farm of college-friend, Jojo Bonnin in Barangay Alangilan,  a mini green-hideaway, just 15 minutes from the city.

Quarry Farm, Barangay Alangilan, Bacolod City

From this visit, The Negros Occidental Initiative was born, to develop responsible travel to Negros with proponents to include: Eco Agri Sustainable Agri Farm  showcase, Don Salvador Benedicto, the next emerging eco hot spot in the Philippines, Fresh Start Organic  and Rapha Valley Sustainable Agri tours. After this visit, several more conferences and workshops were help with yours truly as Resource Person to organize and lead the way forward for the Province to undertake a sustainable tourism culture for stakeholders, host communities and promote Organic Farming based tourism, as a true triple bottom line business model.”

Agri Tourism Sustainable Farm Show Case

Agri Tourism Sustainable Farm Showcase

SSTDI  organized the First Negros Occidental Environment & Sustainable Tourism Forum last November 22 – 23, 2012 in Bacolod City.

The objective of the Forum was to bring together stakeholders from the tourism sector, government regulatory agencies, resort-hotels, travel, transport, real estate developers, contractors, service providers, SMEs, and tourism related industries, environmental NGOs, civic clubs, Pos, IPs, the academe and the local host communities to enhance their knowledge on environmental care and responsibilities, help mitigate the effects of climate change, best green experiences, Sustainable Tourism & Development best practices. 

SSTDI’s vision is for Negros Occidental to be the Sustainable Agri Tourism model and foremost destination of Organic Farm-to-table, Cultural & Culinary experience in the Philippines! Tours can be organized into different themes and interests such as:

  • Family Fun
  • Culture & Culinary
  • Romantic Retreat
  • Girls’ or Guys Getaway
  • Outdoor Adventure
Don Salvador Benedicto Rice Terraces

Don Salvador Benedicto Organic Rice Terraces

For more information and assistance about Sustainable Agri Tours to Negros Occidental, contact us.

 Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc.-SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Educational programs for hotels, destinations – LGUs, host communities,  private stakeholders and the grassroots and tour operators with Global Sustainable Tourism Council criteria. Training programs for Destinations, Hotels, Tour Operators and Industry in general include Environmental ConservationGood Governance, Climate Resilience. The objective is to address global challenges of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals: poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability and climate change. WASTE TO ENERGY solutions are now offered to LGUs for their ecological solidwaste management and renewable energy solutions. For more information and assistance, contact us.

Sustainable Tourism, the way forward

Foreword. Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. -SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Training programs  to public and private stakeholders, host communities and grassroots in sustainable tourism development & stewardship to include Good Governance, Climate Change Mitigation Disaster Preparedness and ManagementWaste to Energy projects are offered to LGUs for their ecological solidwaste management and renewable energy solutions. For more information and assistance, contact us. 

Casebook on Environmental Leadership and Career Development. The Coron Initiative - promoting Sustainable and Responsible Tourism

Casebook on Environmental Leadership and Career Development. The Coron Initiative – promoting Sustainable and Responsible Tourism

Tourism is one of the world’s fastest growing industries and an important source of foreign exchange and employment for many developing countries. Since the mid 90’s we have heard of the term “Sustainable Tourism” and thought of it vaguely as something good for the planetand for the future of tourism but most of us do not really know what it is and its value.

Inkaterra, Peru’s Eco Pioneer since 1975, Carbon Neutral & Conservation Leader

Sustainable is Explainable. Here, we will try to explain what is meant by Sustainable Tourism according to the World Tourism Organization(WTO). Sustainable Tourism is “satisfying current tourist and host community needs, while protecting and improving future opportunities.” Put simply, Sustainability is the capacity to endure. In ecology the word describes how biological systems remain diverse and productive over time with due consideration for carrying capacity. Forhumanity, it is the continuing maintenance of its well-being, as it depends on the natural resources’ benefits and its responsible use.

In the Philippines, the 7107 islands archipelago is blessed with a wealth of natural resources: verdant tropical forest and a stunning range of marine biodiversity, even declared in one region as a Natural World Heritage site. However through the years, ignorance, recklessness, lack of education or awareness, poverty, deforestation and destruction of marine eco systems has damaged some of theislands’ beauty and assets, the very same source that provide livelihood for millions of citizens. More so for its top beach attractions, where stakeholders and travelers alike are unaware of their responsibility to conserve and avoid damage to the places they develop or visit, now vulnerable and threatened, and worse in some, endangered. This is not withstanding the fact that global climate change has fast-tracked the destruction.

“Destroying rainforest for economic gain is like burning a Renaissance painting to cook a meal.” ~ Edward Wilson

According to UNEP, Sustainable Tourism describes policies, practices and programs that take into account not only the expectations of tourists regarding responsible natural resource management (demand), but also the needs of communities that support or are affected by tourism projects and the environment (supply) 2. Sustainable tourism thus aspires to be more energy efficient and more “climate sound” (e.g. by using renewable energy, minimize waste); consume less water;  conserve biodiversity, cultural heritage and traditional values;support intercultural understanding and tolerance; generate local income and integrate host communities with a view to improving livelihoods and reducing poverty.

Photo of Boracay's White Beach courtesy of Rene Thalman.

Can we still protect & conserve Boracay for the future generations? ~ The Boracay Initiative

Local cultures, values and traditions are affected adversely from the profusion of massive expansion without any regard for eco balance. One major loss is authenticity, a major pillar in the principle of sustainable tourism, which should maintain the geographical character of a place, its environment, heritage, aesthetics, culture and well-being of its residents.

The Coron Initiative Sustainable Tourism Development & Stewardship co-organized by SSTDI.

Sustainable Tourism: benefits local communities & raises awareness, support for sustainable use of natural resources

Sustainable is Attainable. According to the WTO guidelines, “Sustainable tourism development requires the informed participationof all relevant stakeholders, as well as strong political leadership to ensure wide participation and consensus building.” To achieve Sustainable Tourism, all sectors have to follow a continuous process which requires constant monitoring of impacts and implement the necessarypreventive and/or corrective measures at all times.

In summary WTO’s Sustainable Tourism is:

  • Making optimal use of environmental resources that form a key element in tourism development, maintaining essential ecological processes and helping to conserve natural heritage and biodiversity to meet climate challenge 

    Danjugan Island Environmental Education Program

    Danjugan Island Environmental Education Program

  • Respecting the sociocultural authenticity of host communities,conserving their built and living cultural heritage and traditional values, and contributing to inter-cultural understanding and tolerance.

“The people who make a difference are not the ones with the credentials, but the ones with the concern.” ~ Max Lacado

  • Ensuring viable, long-term economic operations, providing equal socio-economic benefits to all stakeholders, including stable employment, income-earning opportunities and social services to host communities and contributing to poverty alleviation.

Luxury lodgings at jungle’s best: exquisite regional cuisine, guests learning about rainforest, biodiversity AND conservation.

Sustainable tourism should not only satisfy the travelers’ needs of pleasure and relaxation but also ensure a meaningful experience that raises their awareness about preserving and conserving nature and culture while contributing to the local community as a lasting legacy.

TCI CBSeriesII Teaser

Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. -SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Training programs  to public and private stakeholders, host communities and grassroots in sustainable tourism development & stewardship to include Good Governance, Climate Change Mitigation Disaster Preparedness and ManagementWaste to Energy projects are offered to LGUs for their ecological solidwaste management and renewable energy solutions. For more information and assistance, contact us. 

SSTDI is proud to be part of the Founding Board of the ASIAN ECOTOURISM NETWORK and a member of:

The International Ecotourism Society

References: UNEP, UN- WTO, National Geographic, Wikepedia 
Photos credits: Al3 Photography for Coron, Palawan, Inkaterra for Peru

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