Andaz Resort, Mayakoba, Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico
The first Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) National Forum in the Philippines was held in Boracay Island, just a days before it was declared a cesspool by the President and thereby ordered its closure for six months for “rehabilitation”. Even before the Conference, a lot of controversy arose why Boracay Island was chosen as the venue, as it is not exactly an example of sustainable tourism. Our Society for Sustainable Tourism (SST) and GSTC Philippines countered, the island at its then deplorable environmental state is the best graphic showcase to learn the lessons about flawed tourism development and how to avoid the pitfalls of unsustainable tourism practices.
At the National Forum, Guest Experts all the way from Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya, Mexico, came to share the lessons and good practices of resort developments and sustainable management of beach destinations. Ms. Beatriz Barreal, CEO and Founder of Sustainable Riviera Maya, GSTC Country Representative and Trainer, the force behind the public-private stakeholders’ cooperation in the area and recently working towards México Sostenible, and
Architect Arturo Amaya, of Dirección Arquitectonica SC, and original team member behind the development of Mayakoba, a group of sustainable resorts in Quintana Roo gave vivid insights on sustainable tourism development and stewardship in Playa del Carmen.
SST President and CEO, Ms. Susan Santos de Cardenas herself shared the best practices of these sustainable resort- models as she visited and experienced first-hand, not only as a guest but also as a seasoned hotelier to verify the “back-of-the-house” operations of each and every accredited GSTC-complied, Sustainable Riviera Maya Ambassador.
The Grand Palladium Riviera Resort & Spa considered environmental impacts throughout all phases of its construction and operations. Only thirteen percent (13%) of the 200-hectare property is built up. Eighty-seven percent (87%) of the terrain is used for habitat conservation of marine and coastal biodiversity. Among its GSTC complied standards: structures are low level in height designed to blend with their surroundings; recycled/captured water is 73% of the usage; energy efficient and low GHG emission; ecological solid waste management and recycling programs; sustainable purchasing– 97% of consumable products are locally produced; community empowerment and support programs.
The environment features a network of underground rivers that feed three cenotes and extensive mangrove forests that serve as important habitats for fish and wetland bird species. The four massive hotels educate their staff, guests and local community about ways to reduce their ecological impacts, with twice weekly programs respectively. Palladium is known for its commitment to helping the communities in which they have properties by sharing the area’s natural resources while simultaneously working to mitigate the impact of climate change and fortify the area’s resilience to natural disasters and resource conflicts. Sea turtle conservation is a priority as one of its beaches is a nesting ground for Green and Hawksbill turtle species, thus, the beach area is fenced off from the public between May and October annually. No, sir, they do no such downright unwitting activity as “turtle release” program!
Paradisus, Playa del Carmen, a model of sustainable efficiency. On top of its development philosophy, is the advocacy that the resort was built following international regulations and agreements focused on environmental development. Special considerations in the design include biodiversity protection and restoration (coral reefs, dunes, mangroves and jungle), correct use of streams and a solid and dangerous residues urban management plan.
Other good practices adhering to the GSTC standards include ecological impact relief and carbon footprint reduction, osmosis plant, water metering regulation and discharge control, sustainable hydro hotel certification, waste management and recycling, greenhouse gas inventory and emission reduction, flora and fauna inventory and endangered species conservation program, all Silver EarthCheck certified.
From its groundwork, Mayakoba was envisaged as a resort development with preservation of biodiversity and ecosystems at its core and one of the best examples of sustainability in the country. The integrated design of tourism infrastructure was to follow the contours of the existing topography, to enhance, not replace, the ecological make-up of the place. Architects, biologists, geologists and engineers worked to map out the master plan, that does not destruct, but even boost its environmental assets. As part of the original team that worked on the master development, Architect Arturo Amaya showed us during our inspection tour of the four properties, the epitome of resorts development that corresponds to the local community in a harmonious way.
From flora and fauna inventory and management, new species “migrated” and used the property’s natural resources as their habitat, and for 16 years, coastal and marine species are monitored and inventoried. Likewise, its integral management of solid, water and hazardous waste are carried out in accordance to the law and observed with a Waste Management Plan. Environmental, social and cultural outreach is performed not only for the staff but also all the guests and visitors. Mayakoba is certified by Rainforest Alliance and is a UNWTO Ulysses Awardee in Innovation of companies with sustainable and socially responsible development.
Since 2010 to date, our Society for Sustainable Tourism have proposed to the Department of Tourism (DOT) and talked with three Department Secretaries about adopting the UNWTO – Global Sustainable Tourism criteria, to no avail. Recently, the newly appointed DOT Chief is pronouncing “sustainable tourism” as the norm for the country, however, we have yet to see if they are UNWTO comprehensive standards and not just green washing. No ifs and buts here. If the Department of Tourism, DENR, DILG and all the other government agencies concerned truly want to save Boracay for a longer time, and all the other Philippine tourist destinations for that matter, then it’s high time for the Philippine tourism industry, public and private stakeholders and developers to adopt and implement GSTC Standards not only for destinations but also for resorts, tour operators and businesses, like most of its ASEAN neighbors.
Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc.-SSTDI offers Capacity Building, Educational programs and Green Solutions and Services for public stakeholders: Destinations – LGUs and host communities; private stakeholders – resorts, hospitality, tour operators and businesses with Global Sustainable Tourism Council standards. Training programs and solutions include Environmental Conservation and Compliance, Good Governance, Climate Resilience, to address global challenges of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): food security, poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability and climate resilience. Waste water (P.T. Amanaid Philippines) and Waste to Energy (W2E) Solutions as well as other green innovations are now offered to LGUs and tourism industry for law compliance.
For more information and assistance, contact us.
GSTC Sustainable Tourism Training Program for Destinations – your journey towards sustainability
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.
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
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
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 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.
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.
The youngest municipality of Negros Occidental, Don 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Several acts from “Anagas” was especially presented by DSB’s Cultural Consultant, play director and writer, Ismael Java. Anagas 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 Management. Waste to Energy projects are offered to LGUs for their ecological solidwaste management and renewable energy solutions. For more information and assistance, contact us.
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 Management. Waste to Energy projects are offered to LGUs for their ecological solidwaste management and renewable energy solutions. For more information and assistance, contact us.
Greening a destination – for the tourism industry, how do you make a city or host community sustainable? For real estate developers, how do you build an eco-town or sustainable subdivision? Check out the essence of a green cities and environmentally sound sites.
For simplicity, we are using the UN’s definition of sustainability: A sustainable society meets the needs of the present without sacrificing the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
According to Wikipedia a sustainable city, is a city designed with consideration of environmental impact, inhabited by people dedicated to minimize the use of energy, water and food, and production of heat, air pollution – CO2, methane and water pollution.
Cities or towns compete with each other globally for the attention of investors. Almost every municipality sites sustainability as one of its key targets, but it is often not clear as to how this declaration translates into action, or if the actions that are taken go beyond green window dressing.
The first step when steering towards urban sustainability is visible greening: planting trees, promoting subsistence gardening or saving wetlands for birds.
The next steps environmental measures which bring social and economic benefits. Health concerns must put emphasis on quality of water, provision of ecological waste management and cleaner energy.
Waste management can also turn into business, when sorting produces material for local crafts and bio waste becomes a source of energy. Clogged sewers lead to a ban on plastic bags while lessons about ecosystem services are learned when rivers are cleaned and watersheds are managed in an effort to prevent flooding.
Almost every city in the world is dealing with an influx of people from different ethnic backgrounds and cultural events play an important part in creating a sense of pride in the community and are promoted as a means to support minorities. Cultural heritage is increasingly understood as a resource to be kept alive, both for visitors to cities and for the people who live there.
In the cities that try to fake it, the grassroots heritage aspects and authenticity disappear as events grow bigger and more commercial. Major events that require substantial investment, such as festivals and sporting events do not always enhance quality of life for local communities after the television cameras have left.
Some cities are aware of the links between global targets and local actions. Sustainability measures are taken at the local level, including investment in renewable energy and efficiency requirements for local buildings. More advanced cities broaden the focus to cover social impact and how sustainable development policy is delivered. Watch Tokyo solid waste & recycling management video. Incredible!
Refurbishment of existing buildings becomes big business, public transport systems are improved and sustainable public procurement practices are introduced.
Shanghai Manual – helping leaders of the world’s cities use integrated urban planning, management, financing and technology to green their economies and build climate and economic resilience.
While all these aspects constitute progress, it is misguided to think that they combine to create urban sustainability. True systemic change is missing from the picture. Progress to date has been far too slow and incremental changes to business as usual don’t go far enough.
The tough road ahead will have to include holistic visions, integrated planning and brave strategies to implement them. For this to become a reality, the language of money must become more about sustainability, renewable energy sources must be fully integrated into urban infrastructure and the pedestrian must become king of the road. Source: The Guardian
DO POSITIVE. Learn the lessons from disasters: take action. Demand from your political representatives to do their job, work towards healthy, clean environment and community. For Metro Manila, hope is seen at the horizon with the Green Print 2030, and people should take action towards livability and sustainability.
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 Conservation, Good 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.
We know the problems, we know the solutions. Sustainable development. The issue is the political will. ~ Ex PM Tony Blair
LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT. I first went to Boracay Island, Philippines (voted as one of the best beaches in the world) in the late 80’s and we had a most fantastic experience in paradise. We travelled in the typhoon season; there were no air-conditioned buses for the long, dusty and grueling overland ride with the locals and chickens alike; no jetty port – we had to wade in shallow waters to board a motorized small banca,across the strait in rough waters. Boracay was not affected by typhoons then, however during this this season called the Habagat, southwest monsoon winds, we had to land on the other side of the island (Bulabog) and hike all the way to our resort located on White Beach, our luggage, transported by a water buffalo-pulled cart. There was no electricity, no air-conditioning and no hot water showers in those days, but our stay was pure and simple pleasure. We had the time of our life!
WORK AT WHITE BEACH. Little did I imagine that just after two years, I would return to the island and work for one of the pioneer resorts, and stayed further on for 10 years to manage two small properties, tour operations and transport company. Within this period, I also handled three small airline companies that serviced Caticlan, two were defunct and the ultimate one was Seair, which I had to persuade convincingly to fly there. The rest is history.
PARADISE LOST- WELL, ALMOST. I left Boracay in 2001 after 10 years of working there as I felt that it was excessively crowded, over-developed in a destructive sense and regrettably deteriorating due to lack of Eco-balance. I ain’t seen nothin’ yet! Returning exactly 21 years since I first came, with over 500 hundred resorts of all shapes, sizes and prices, there is hardly a trace of the pristine, peaceful and perfect paradise that I first saw. It is just chaotic congestion of lodgings, restaurants, bars, stores crowding with vans and tricycles, with no regard for proper zoning, maximum carrying capacity policies, no conservation value for natural environment, nor ecological protection not to mention, it ranks high in climate change risk, most especially on White Beach’s spectacular shoreline.
FULL CIRCLE. It is perhaps the hands of fate that made me return to Boracay in 2010, as a Guest Speaker at Events Asia 2010 and as luck would have it, talk about Sustainable Events Management. With my experience at Inkaterra, Peru’s Eco pioneer and Conservation leader, I shared my knowledge and experience in sustainable tourism and environmental conservation. In 1975, Inkaterra opened a lodge for scientists to study Peru’s rainforest long before eco tourism was trendy. With over 35 years of experience in sustainable tourism initiatives, it is the first to be carbon neutral in the country, doing reforestation projects in a total of 17,000 hectares in the Amazon and the Andes.
PLEDGE. After having seen the current deteriorated environmental status of the island, a framework for a new Boracay Conservation, Social Responsibility and Sustainable Development, was conceived for stakeholders and local host community.
THE BORACAY INITIATIVE®- A CALL FOR UNITY AND SUPPORT. The challenge is to espouse and implement The Boracay Initiative© (TBI) – an Environmental Conservation, Social Responsibility & Sustainable Tourism framework adapted from the UNWTO & Rainforest Alliance. TBI was presented to the island’s multi-stakeholders at the First Environmental Forum in 2010, organized with the cooperation of the Department of Environment & Natural Resources & Environmental Management Bureau -Region VI, Office of the Mayor of Malay, Aklan, Boracay Foundation & Petron Foundation. However, to date, both public and private stakeholders have not taken it up at all.
LESS CONVERSATION, IT’S TIME FOR ACTION. Fate brought me back to the island, which we have come to love and cherish, but it is high time for us to take action, less conversation! We must put all our efforts and resources to restore and conserve Boracay Island, its natural beauty and valuable coastal marine environement to provide sustainability, continued economic vitality and resilience for its stakeholders, the Philippines’ tourism industry and the future generations.
TBI was presented once again, to concerned citizens in the island, with the gracious hosting by Mandala Spa & Villas, multi-awarded Spa and ASEAN2012 Green Hotel winner. This time with the Society For Sustainable Tourism & Development, Inc. -SSTDI at the helm, TBI’s Sustainable Tourism, Conservation and Social Responsibility framework is designed to be implemented with the cooperation of both private and public sector of Boracay Island, with expert institutional partners Zero Carbon Resorts, Green Hotels & The Clean Blue.
So, Boracay Island and the Philippines, when will you begin to espouse Sustainable Tourism? Conserve & protect the island/ 7,107 islands for the future generations?