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What does it take to become a sustainable tourism destination?

GSTC Sustainable Tourism Training Program for Destinations – your journey towards sustainability

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The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) Sustainable Tourism Training Program (STTP) offers customized solutions to your destination’s sustainable tourism development and management needs. Whether you’re working to build a foundation or seeking to take your sustainability impact to the next level, our team of international experts will provide the guidance, support and resources needed to achieve your destination’s training and capacity building goals.

About GSTC

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) is the global expert in standards for sustainable tourism. Founded in 2008 through collaborative efforts by sustainability leaders from UNEP, UNWTO, the UN Foundation and the Rainforest Alliance, the GSTC is an independent not-for-profit organization (registered in the USA as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization) pursuing the goals of:

· Promoting sustainable tourism knowledge and practices;

· Facilitating the adoption of universal sustainable tourism principles; and

· Building demand for sustainable travel

At the core of this work is the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria, a framework to ensure the sustainability of tourism businesses and destinations across the globe.

GSTC Criteria for Destinations 

Danjugan Island

Danjugan Island

To effectively implement sustainable destination practices and to guarantee long-term sustainability, a suitable balance must be established between the four pillars of sustainable tourism: Sustainable Management, Economic Benefits, Community Benefits and Environmental Benefits.

The GSTC Criteria for Destinations (GSTC-D) outline interdisciplinary, holistic and integrative approaches to these four key areas of sustainability objectives, and serve as a common language to promote sustainable tourism at the destination level. Designed as the global baseline standard for destinations, GSTC-D has been vetted and adopted by a number of destinations around the world.

Global Authority on Sustainable Tourism

The GSTC is a UN-endorsed independent organization playing a critical role as the global eader in providing guidance for the development and management of sustainability in tourism. Based on our extensive knowledge base, the GSTC STTP offers both global and regional perspectives relevant to the specific context of your destination’s sustainable tourism journey.

From Words to Actions, to Long-term Impacts 

TCI CB Series II- Green Leaders Forum, July 2013

The Coron Initiative – GSTC Standards Training for Destinations, soon in Coron!

The objective of the GSTC STTP is not to offer a one-time exercise of reviewing what should be done; rather, we will work with you towards tangible and meaningful goals, focusing on the long-term success of your destination’s sustainable tourism development and on-going management practices.

GSTC Expert Trainer 

Susan Santos de Cárdenas, Sustainability Guru Asia Pacific

Susan Santos de Cárdenas, President and CEO, Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development, Inc. – SSTDI, GSTC Country Representative

Susan Santos Cárdenas specializes on sustainable tourism development and stewardship initiatives with Community Social Responsibility (CSR) at grassroots application. A savvy tourism professional and hotelier with more than 20 years’ experience managing sales, marketing, operations, events – M.I.C.E. and human resources development for start-ups and luxury hotel resorts, tour operators, travel agencies, lifestyle events and publications, in the Philippines, Singapore, Peru and Japan.

She had been a keynote speaker & resource person in capacity building and training workshops for sustainable tourism development to include Ecotourism, Community-based and Agri-tourism promotion. She was a consultant and adviser for Local Government Units (LGUs) in the Philippines. She is a founding board member of the Asian Ecotourism Network, Country Representative & Trainer of Global Sustainable Tourism Council.

Learn more about the STTP on how we can help your destination or contact us for more details.

Go on a green beach holiday to Coron!

TCI FB Cover SeriesIIWorld’s Best Island Green Getaway

Go off on a green beach holiday, swim in pristine white beaches and turquoise lagoons surrounded by limestone cliffs, snorkel in cerulean lakes blessed with overwhelming marine biodiversity, go on island hopping excursions on over 60 islets or scuba dive in stunning corals where World War II ship wrecks lie. Travel to a virtually unspoiled countryside, with cows grazing through rolling grasslands and sometimes crossing the road where practically no man-made structures is in sight. Discover the Philippines’“last frontier!”

 Focal Points

Twin Lagoons. Photo by Al Linsangan III.

Twin Lagoons. Photo by Al Linsangan III.

  • Limestone landscapes – the steep and protruding karst cliffs and spires at the Ancestral Domain of the Tagbanua indigenous tribe.
  • Islands and Beaches – pristine, uninhabited white sand beaches and dozens of islands.
  • From reefs to wrecks – Busuanga Island and its bays offer a very peculiar combination of relatively rich coral reefs (notably in Siete Pecados, Bintuan-Sangat, etc) and the famous 12 Japanese World War II shipwrecks.
  • Wildlife sanctuary areas – The Calauit Game Reserve and Wildlife Refuge is a major tourist destination for wildlife interaction, as well as routes and trails along the way.
  • Bird watching trails offers good forest cover, such as the beach forest in Barangay Old Busuanga and the rich mangroves in Bugtong, Sagrada, and Concepcion.

Foremost Jaunts (Full-day excursions):

Iconic Coron excursions.

 Iconic Coron excursions.

Islands Expedition – swim and snorkel at select pristine islands and beaches: Malcapuya, Banana & Bulog Islands.

Wildlife Safari – go on a tropical wildlife adventure : Calauit Wildlife Park, Concepcion Falls & Bintuan Mangrove Walk.

Reefs and Wrecks – set off to a green diving and snorkeling expedition: Lusong Ship wreck, Coral gardens, Calumbuyan Island &  Sangat gunboat.

Nature Park Hiking & Kayaking – all aboard to Kingfisher Park for nature hiking & kayaking: nature trail, picnic lunch by the river and kayaking by the mangroves. Ideal for birdwatchers too!

GET INSPIRED!

Birding Coron2

Coron: A birdwatching paradise! 

Green Honeymoon 

Kayangan Lake Wedding & Coron Honeymoon.

Kayangan Lake Wedding & Coron Honeymoon.

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Eco Friendly Escapade

Isla Bulungan_Al

Nature & Wildlife Photo Expiditions

SUGGESTED ITINERARY

In order to make the most of your visit and trip, you deserve to stay at least 4 Days & 3 Nights, no less!

Suggested Itinerary: 4 Days & 3 Nights minimum.

Suggested Itinerary: 4 Days & 3 Nights minimum.

For more information and reservations send us a message.

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”

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.

Gerry Ledesma, Founder & President, Philippine Reef & Rainforest Conservation Foundation Inc. -PRRCFI

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.

Third Lagoon, Danjugan Island. Photo via Liwanag Aristoza San Miguel.

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.

Photo via Liwanag Aristoza San Miguel.

Mangroves, a marine biodiveristy sanctuary in Danjugan Island.

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.

Lizard Fish (Synodus variegatus)

Commercially important marine invertebrates such as the giant clams (Tridacna crocea, T. squamosa and Hippopus hippopus) are observed in the reefs. A restocking program for the endangered Tridacna gigas is being implemented in collaboration with UP-MSI. Other commercially important invertebrates observed are Abalone (Haliotis asinine) and Spiny lobster (Panulirus spp.) The endangered coconut crab (Birgus latro) still occur in the coastal and mangrove forests of the island. The western beaches of Danjugan Island are known nesting sites of the Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) and Green Sea Chelonia Mydas Turtles. There was one sighting of a Dugong in the past while sightings of dolphins are common within the municipal waters of Cauayan which is a migration path of some larger marine mammal species.

Danjugan Island Environmental Education Program

Watch this video:  

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 BLGUs.

To date the program has reached out to at least 14 schools in the project sites, over 800 elementary and high school students, and over 50 barangay officials from 3 BLGUs. Members of the LGUs that were participants of the program also developed work plans to implement marine protected areas and more effective solid waste management plans in their communities. The success of DEEP is evident in the greatly positive response and continued support of the Department of Education in Region VI, which has also recognized DEEP as an official co-curricular program for schools in the SNCDP area.

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.

Typhoon Beach House. Photo via Liwanag Aristoza San Miguel.

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 and Green Hotels stay, 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.

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 

The International Ecotourism Society

Photo Credits: Photos of Danjugan via its Facebook Page & Liwanag Aristoza San Miguel as captioned.

Bird Watching, prime ecotourism activity in Coron

Bird Watching Training for Community Guides, a post TCI- CB Series activity co-organized by Society of Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. – SSTDI.

At the final and culminating Coron Initiative Capacity Building Series (TCI- CB Series IV) last March 2014, a presentation on Coron Bird Watching for Conservation and Ecotourism was conducted by Mr. Chin Fernandez, president of the The Wild Bird Society of Coron (or Birdwatch Coron). Mr. Fernandez is also the president of Calamianes Association of Tourism Establishments (CATE) and COO of Darayonan Lodge. Highlights of the presentation are as follows:

  • Birding must be promoted as an ecotourism activity in Coron. There is a growing trend among bird tour operators to practice sustainable and socially responsible ecotourism, while relying on local goods and services or supporting local conservation projects. Due to their accessibility and ubiquity, birds are a useful tool for environmental education and awareness on environmental issues. Birds easily transmit values on respect to nature and the fragility of ecosystems.
  • Bird watching is a hobby for enthusiasts, but it can be packaged targeting nature travelers in general who are into it as an alternative activity, since not all tourists may be fond of snorkeling/diving; or they may be both.
  • Bird watching can be an added value to spend one more day in Coron or some tourists may have an extra day, either for rest or for on any other possible activity for them. Bird watching may be introduced as it is a little challenging to see and detect birds in their natural habitat. However, once seen, tourists may be enthralled to witness the other wonders of nature.
Birding Coron2

Blue-Tailed Bee-Eater, Tulbuan Coron, Palawan. Photo by AL3Photography/CoronGaleri.

  • A local group in Coron, called the The Wild Bird Society of Coron (or Birdwatch Coron for short),seeks to identify current and potential hobbyists in promoting the activity.
  • Adequate information campaign must however be conducted in collaboration with other bird watching and conservation groups as to the proper way of conducting the activity.
  • There is a move to declare by legislation, the Blue-headed Racquet-tail (an endemic parrot species), also locally known as “Kilit” to be a flagship species for Coron.
Birding Coron

Lesser Coucal at Sitio Banga, Coron Palawan. Photo by Al3Photography.

After Mr. Fernandez’s presentation, Mr. Alex Marcaida, from Palawan Sustainable Development Council (PSDC) the Workshop Facilitator had additional comments that bird watching is indeed an alternative activity to decrease pressure of tourist influx in water activities, or on a bigger scale, a tour package can be developed using the ridges to reef approach, wherein appreciation of nature may be on land and on water. He also lauded the movement of the Coron Birdwatching Society for the adoption and declaration of “Kilit” by the Sangguniang Bayan (Municipal Council) of Coron as its flagship species along with the underlying protection of the species and its habitat. Such movement may be adopted by other Palawan municipalities and incorporated into the Palawan Provincial Tourism Development Plan targeted for enactment on 2016. It is also beneficial that bird enthusiasts upload their photographs of birds online as a feedback system for identification and added information on its behavior, habitat, ecological/economic value and conservation measures.

Photo Expedition

Coron Photo Expedition, Birding & Nature Adventure by Coron Galeri. Photo by Al3Photography.

For more information and travel assistance about our Birdwatching in Coron, visit our Green Travel Exchange and for your Green Hotels stay , send us a message.  Join our Society of Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. SSTDI- advocating green, eco-friendly and responsible travel. 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.

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. 

Coron, a GREEN sanctuary

 

TCI CB Series IV FB Cover teaser

Foreword. The following is a re-post from an article by Ms. Chit Juan, Social Enterpreneur & Sustainability advocate Managing Partner of Echo Store (see our related blog on green products & gift ideas), one of SSTDI-The Coron Initiative Resource Experts.  

CORON A green sanctuary

MANILA, Philippines – I remember Boracay in the early 1990s when it was lights out at 9 p.m., and you needed flashlights if you wanted to stroll along the shore after sunset, and resorts had ceiling fans and no air conditioning. Coron reminds me of such a time. And how I wish it would remain this way for a long time.

For daytrippers, you can dock your banca at Smith Beach where the boatmen from Al Linsangan’s cooperative will cook up a quick healthy lunch of grilled squid and local fish, and some pork too if you wish. The boatmen come to the beach complete with reusable plates and utensils so as not to litter the beach with disposable plastic utensils. And they encourage you to take as many pictures as you wish while they fix lunch.

After lunch, you board the boat to view Kayangan Lake, a steep 70-step climb in the forest where you are gifted with beautiful postcard views of the lakes of Coron. The island has many nooks and crannies, and snorkel spots like Twin Peaks, Siete Pecados, which responsible eco guides can lead you to. Beware that there are many tricycle drivers and boatmen posing as guides. There are about 40 licensed guides in Coron, and it would be more responsible to pay the proper fees for a proper guide. I wish that the local government is able to control the number of huts situated in the lake. The lake is actually best left to be managed by its original inhabitants, the Tagbanua, because they know how to preserve their environs.

You could also go by paddle boat (I do not know how long it would take to paddle from Coron town to the island though) so as not to disturb the animals that have the island as their natural habitat. Visitors should also not use insect repellants, lotions and other chemical products that could leech into the pristine waters, which are so clear you would surely be tempted to jump in.

To keep Coron as virgin as possible, a group of eco advocates have joined together to form the movement called The Coron Initiative. The movement seeks to teach tour guides to be eco guides, to teach resort owners how to buy green and serve green products, to teach boatmen how to preserve nature and to rally everyone to help save Coron from becoming another commercial destination.

A day trip may not be enough to see Coron island as it has many beaches and snorkel sites. A few more days are needed, too, to explore the rest of the Calamianes Islands – Culion, Linapacan, Coron and Busuanga – and that is just for a quickie view. Even Coron natives still have not explored all their neighboring isles.

What is important is to be a responsible tourist if we are to keep Coron and the rest of the islands pure and green. When we go on these trips, we should not expect city life and comfort. Rather, we should live as the natives do. We should all help in maintaining the peace and quiet of these islands. And of course, help in keeping it green and unadulterated.

There are eco advocates who have joined the movement and you may be better off seeing them on your visit to make sure you are with the green people:

Al Linsangan III is the community leader and head of Calamianes Culture Conservation Network Inc. He also operates responsible and eco-friendly green tours.

Hilbert Enriquez is a locavore and restaurant owner who infuses local flavor in his cuisine at Santino’s Grill.

Ivan Fernandez operates eco-friendly Coron Village Lodge and has adopted green ways like  using used cooking oil for their candles, retrofitting their lodges with eco-friendly materials, etc.

Rene Villegas shares his knowledge about Biology with the eco tour guides, promotes closed season fishing which is three days before and after the New Moon so we can save our favorite fish made into the famous lamayo danggit.

Eric Raymundo has volunteered his personal time to teach resort owners how to be energy efficient at the lowest price possible.

Caloy Libosada teaches tour guides how to be eco-friendly and how to appreciate birds and birdwatching as a tour possibility.

Chin Fernandez, another birdwatcher and Darayonan Lodge operator, promotes birdwatching tours.

PJ Aranador shares with resort developers how to be more efficient in using native materials while keeping the Tagbanua culture in their designs, rather than taking inspiration from Bali or other cultures.

Susan Santos de Cardenas is the moving force behind Sustainable Tourism initiative and has helped CCCNI find partners in the international community despite her being Japan-based.

And the chieftain himself of the Tagbanuas, Rodolfo, who joined our conference (The Green Leaders Forum last July 1 and 2, see related story) to get everyone on the same page while guiding The Coron Initiative members in respecting the ways and customs of the indigenous tribe.

There are many more advocates who can help preserve Coron and its sister islands and many more who can join the movement even while being a tourist or an investor. There are 688 more islands available for sale or investment and we wish developers would toe the line in keeping virgin islands like Coron the way they were when we found them. Let’s make it not just more fun in the Philippines, but greener too.

Note: Original article By Ms. Chit U. Juan (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 14, 2013. Highlighting and hyperlinks by Sustainability Guru. 

Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc.-SSTDI, the Philippines’ pioneer in Sustainable Tourism, Conservation and Social Responsibility framework is working on The Coron Initiative, implemented in Coron, Calamianes Islands, Palawan, with institutional partners Zero Carbon ResortsGreen Hotels & Green Fins. 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. 

Take a green trip to Coron, Palawan, Philippines, site of The Coron Initiative– a UNEP APFED showcase program on Sustainable Tourism  Development & Stewardship, the Philippines’ first sustainable tourism program.  For more information and travel assistance please visit our Green Travel Exchange or contact us.   

 GREEN HOTELS ASIA PACIFIC is our network of the most reliable eco responsible hotels around the world to help the hotel industry embrace sustainability by integrating innovation and added value with environmental actions in a vibrant green global exchange of hoteliers, operators and responsible clients.

Eco-Responsible, Sustainable & innovative Green Hotels in Asia Pacific

Eco-Responsible, Sustainable & innovative Green Hotels in Asia Pacific

GREEN FINS, Sustainable Diving & Snorkeling is an innovative  onservation initiative designed around threats to coral reef biodiversity. It is a practical system to implement environmentally friendly guidelines and a robust management and assessment system to monitor success and apply lessons learned. 

Green Fins

Green Fins, Sustainable Diving & Snorkeling conserving coral reefs and marine ecosystems

 

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 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

The International Ecotourism Society

Source: Expedia Travel World Heritage tips. Photo credits: Al3 Photography for Coron photo.  

Negros Occidental, Sustainable Agri Tourism destination

The Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development, Inc. (SSTDI) is a not-for-profit, non-governmental organization based in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, Philippines established to lead The Negros Occidental Initiative: provide training services and capacity building support to the province’s public and private stakeholders; to attain excellence in sustainable tourism and development, environmental conservation and stewardship to help mitigate climate change; and espouse social responsibility for local economic growth, underlining cultural, community and ecological legacy while promoting authentic and responsible travel experiencesSSTDI offers Sustainability Capacity Building and Training programs for LGUs, communities, grassroots and stakeholders include Good Governance, Climate Change education and Disaster Prevention and ManagementWaste to Energy projects are offered to LGUs for their ecological solidwaste and renewable energy solutions. For more information and assistance, contact us. 

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.

Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development, Inc. (SSTDI)

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.

 

Zero Carbon Resorts helping SMEs switch to renewal energy and green technology

ZERO CARBON RESORTS is our joint project with GrAt for the SMEs in the Tourism Industry to reduce carbon footprint by switching from use of fossil fuel to renewable energy sources especially solar energy and green technologies.

Green Hotels Asia Pacific our network of reliable eco-responsible hotels

GREEN HOTELS ASIA PACIFIC is our network of the most reliable eco responsible hotels around the world. It works to help the hotel industry embrace sustainability by integrating innovation and added value with environmental actions in a vibrant global exchange of green hoteliers, operators and responsible clients.

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