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World Travel and Tourism Council Report: Disaster Recovery Lessons from Japan and elsewhere

Coron_Green Reconstruction

Sustainability Guru Asia Pacific was honored to be part of the invite-only World Travel & Tourism Council -WTTC- Global Summit Japan in Sendai & Tokyo. Summit reports started with the Tourism for Tomorrow 2012 Awards & Winners. The following is a re-post from the WTTC 2012 News & updates starting with the First Session in Sendai, Japan.

Disaster Recovery Lessons from Japan- keynote by Norifumi Idee-Japan Tourism Agency

“We are here to hear what we have learnt from the crisis,” said Mr Takamatsu, CEO, Japan Tourism Marketing Company, and session moderator. “The objective of this session is to look at the best ways to manage a crisis with case studies from Japan, but also other countries and the Travel & Tourism industry,” he added.

WTTC Sendai:Disaster Recovery Lessons Moderator Mr. Masako Takamatsu

Given the events of the last decade – from America on September 11 2001 to Japan on 11 March 2011, dealing with the unusual is increasingly becoming business as usual in the Travel & Tourism industry.

According to the Annual Global Climate and Catastrophe Report published by Impact Forecasting, 2011 was one of the most active years on record in terms of instances of natural catastrophes, so there has never been a more pressing time to consider crisis management and disaster recovery.

WTTC Global Summit Disaster Recovery Lessons from Japan

Japan has learnt a lot since March 2011, Mr Idee, Commissioner, Japan Tourism Agency (JTA), Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism told delegates. “I can tell you that [after the earthquake and tsunami], the government immediately took measures to ensure that the region was safe from radiation and that there was total security regarding food safety.

We have also undertaken a wide range of measures to try encourage a recovery in demand, using high-profile visitors like Lady Gaga to help us in our promotions. And we are grateful to UNWTO and the United Nations generally for issuing reassurances to the world that Japan is open for business. I would like to express my gratitude to them for these measures.

We were delighted to see that WTTC’s latest report suggests that Japan’s Travel & Tourism recovery will be better than expected, with the percentage drop in inbound tourism in 2012 projected to be down in single digits over Japan’s peak tourism year in 2010”.

“Destination Tohoku” campaigns in foreign countries such as the United States help, and we are focusing on the travel trade – tour operator and travel agents – to communicate our messages. But we are promoting domestic as well as inbound tourism.

Disaster Lessons from Japan Railway - infrastructure and transport sector

Mr Ogata, Vice Chairman,  East Japan Railway Company told the Summit that in 50 years of operating the Shinkansen (Japanese “bullet-train”) there had never been an associated fatal casualty. JR East is the largest railway company in Japan – with 4,700 miles of network and 17 million passengers a day on 13,000 trains. Its top priority is safety.

Many lessons from past experiences of earthquakes, e.g. the use of reinforced pillarsearly earthquake detection systems, seismometers, preventing trains from large-scale deviations, plus the education and training of its staff have secured a dramatic decrease in accidents. But in addition to taking countermeasures, it is essential to utilise innovative risk assessments. As a result, on 11 March 2011, there were no customer fatalities or injuries – though because of aftershocks, it took 50 days to restore full operation.

There were lots of lessons learned: e.g. even more early detection systems needed – plus better evacuation systems, and a strengthening of electrification masts.

Bert van Walbeek, Chairman of PATA’s Rapid Recovery Taskforce, and Managing Director, The Winning Edge gave the Summit “Five Points in Five Minutes”:

• Educate and train all stakeholders • Accept joint responsibility

• Respect and understand ‘Mother Nature’

• Co-operate on travel advisories

• We all need to work together to address the problem, in terms of crisis management and prevention.

UNWTO Risk and Crisis Management Coordinator Dirk Glaesser

Dirk Glaesser, Coordinator, Risk and Crisis Management, UNWTO reminded the Summit that whilst crises do occur, it’s the way we prepare for them and manage them that is critical. UNWTO works not just through United Nations systems but also through TERN – the Tourism Emergency Research Network, which groups together public and private sector organisations and associations involved in tourism. “The whole purpose of TERN is sharing knowledge and best practice, and communicating between partner organisations/associations and the outside world, through media,.

It’s all about planning and preparedness,” said Glaesser, “the importance of correct assumptions and strategic contingency planning.”

WTTC Sendai Summit Disaster Recovery Panel Discussion

In the Panel Discussion which followed, Raymond N Bickson, Managing Director & CEO, Taj Hotels Resorts & Palaces, said: “ Whether natural disaster or terrorist attack or other man-made disasters, including health concerns like H1N1 and bird flu, the crisis management tools are all very similar across the board. What helps recovery is the public and private sectors working together – plus India has its own national chapter of WTTC and this has helped us enormously.”

Robert Laurence Noddin, CEO and Representative in Japan, AIU Insurance Company, Japan Branch, told the story of the Japanese crisis from the insurance industry standpoint: “ We had to overcome or deal with three major issues: impact on transportation, getting support to customers and staff; and the availability of data and how to usecontroland communicate it. The sheer scale of the disaster meant that there was huge damage, so we needed to call on an unprecedented number of support staff to assess the damages”.

The Summit then listened attentively to the story as told by Mrs. Noriko Abe, the “Okami” of Minami-Sanriku Hotel Kanyo.  Her story was a wonderful example of a member of the Travel & Tourism industry taking the initiative to help the community – in the aftermath some people had no accommodation, no food, no clothes. How to help them? “We had to help them. There was total confusion and incomprehension as to why this had happened to them. We offered support to 600 citizens – we started a school inside the hotel. Without help, we risked some of the younger Japanese leaving the community to go and live elsewhere. Or even committing suicide out of desperation, especially young mothers. Soour help in fact was a way of rebuilding the community and giving people a reason for living”. On the basis of this closing presentation, the first session of the first day of the Sendai Forum drew the conclusion thatTourism is not often seen as the cement of community solidarity, but it should be. It’s something very human, and can really help when crises strike.

WTTC Global Summit Japan 2012

Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc.-SST offers TrainingCapacity Building, Educational programs, Green Solutions and Services for public stakeholders: Destinations – LGUs and host communities;  Private stakeholders – Hotels, Resorts, Hospitality, Tour Operators and Businesses with Green Destinations, Global Leaders Program and Green Travel Guide capacity building and solutions to include Environmental Conservation and ComplianceGood Governance, Climate Resilience, to address global challenges of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): food security, poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability and climate resilience for the local host community. Waste water (P.T. Amanaid Philippines) and Waste to Energy (W2E) Solutions as well as other green destinations solutions and innovations are now offered to LGUs and tourism industry for law compliance.

For more information and assistance, contact us.

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SST President & CEO is the Philippines GSTC Country Representative & Trainer

 

Inkaterra – Sustainable Tourism and Conservation Leader since 1975

Watch the Inkaterra trailer: 

 

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In 1975, a Peruvian company called Inkaterra opened a lodge for scientists who came to study Peru’s rainforest, long before eco-tourism was trendy. Inkaterra’s proud legacy of conservation, social responsibility and geo tourism has created an international model, recognized by the World Bank and the United Nations, by providing the sophisticated international traveler with a luxurious, gracious and authentic exposure coupled with social responsibility initiatives for over 30 years now.

 

Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica

Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica Canopy Walk – a learning experience about the Amazon Rainforest, its flora and fauna.

Inkaterra through its NGO Inkaterra Foundation (Inka Terra Asociacion –ITA) carried out ecological endeavors at Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica, on the Tambopata National Reserve in Peru’s Southern Amazon rainforest and at Inkaterra Machu Picchu Hotel, in the Machu Picchu National Reserve in the Southern Andes. ITA was founded to conserve the environment, ecosystems, cultural and archaeologicalnatural resources, Peru’s cultural identity and apply sustainable development.

Inkaterra-Reserva-Amazonica_Main_House1-1024x705

Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica – where ecological research and conservation started.

Through ITA, Inkaterra’s ongoing programs include Research, such as sponsoring international scientists and local experts who conduct ecosystem studies, biodiversity, flora and fauna inventory andconservation status, etc.  This has resulted in the identification of 372 species and the discovery of 8 new species in the Machu Picchu cloud forest, as well as several publications and field guides.

Inkaterra is included in the Harvard Business Case Study for Sustainable Tourism

Inkaterra is included in the Harvard Business Case Study for Sustainable Tourism

Inkaterra Conservation Projects include the Inkaterra Canopy & Anaconda Walk at Reserva Amazonica, with constant monitoring of wildlife assessments and endangered eco systems, as well as the Rolin Island Fauna Rescue Center and the Butterfly House in Puerto Maldonado. Likewise, the Spectacled Bear Rescue Project in Machu Picchu provides vital support for protection of the endangered Andean bear species. Natural corridors and carbon fixing along the Madre de Dios River of the Southern Amazon rainforest and the Andean cloud forest in Machu Picchu are carried out in a total of 17,000 hectares of reforestation projects.

 

Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, Travel+Leisure Global Vision Awards Winner

Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, Travel+Leisure Global Vision Awards Winner

Environmental and eco best practices include evaluating surrounding landscapes, flora, fauna, water, air, sounds and solid waste.Infrastructure was constructed in keeping with the local nature in both Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica’s Ese-Eja styled cabañas and Inkaterra Machu Picchu Andean casitasQuality assurance along with ecological safety measures are ensured with the proper use of water resources,water waste management, air quality maintenance through proper utilization of gas stoves, non usage of aerosols and ground keeping in general. All Inkaterra eco-excursions such as Bird watching, Orchid Trail, Nature Walks, among others, are led by highly trained, knowledgeable and conscientious expert eco guides-interpreters.

Tea making ITMP

Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel guests taking part in Organic Tea picking and process their own tea bags.

Cooperative projects with the local community includes the Gamitana Farm, a comprehensive model farmhouse for self-generating eco-agri business. It also operates Concepcion, a community house restored for volunteers, local and international researchers and a national volunteerand education program.

Inkaterra, multi-awarded, globally acclaimed by travel & tourism events and publications worldwide.

Inkaterra, multi-awarded, globally acclaimed by travel & tourism events and publications worldwide.

In April 2007, Inkaterra became Peru’s first carbon-neutral travel organization by integrating renewable energy onsite, and offsetting emissions from all of its accommodation and tour related activities, including fuel use and electricity generation.  Inkaterra acknowledges that all travel generates unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions that affect global warming.  Inkaterra actively educates their clients and guests to do so as well with the opportunity to of a carbon neutral accommodations in the Andes and the Amazon, which offer a wonderful experience for the conscientious traveler. 

Inkaterra World Travel & Tourism Council, Tourism for Tomorrow Award Winner in Conservation, 2012.

Inkaterra World Travel & Tourism Council, Tourism for Tomorrow Award Winner in Conservation, 2012.

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.

Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc.-SST offers TrainingCapacity Building, Educational programs, Green Solutions and Services for public stakeholders: Destinations – LGUs and host communities;  Private stakeholders – Hotels, Resorts, Hospitality, Tour Operators and Businesses with Green Destinations, Global Leaders Program and Green Travel Guide capacity building and solutions to include Environmental Conservation and ComplianceGood Governance, Climate Resilience, to address global challenges of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): food security, poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability and climate resilience for the local host community. Waste water (P.T. Amanaid Philippines) and Waste to Energy (W2E) Solutions as well as other green destinations solutions and innovations are now offered to LGUs and tourism industry for law compliance.

 

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.-SST offers LearningCapacity Building, Educational programs, Green Solutions and Services for public stakeholders: Destinations – LGUs and host communities;  Private stakeholders – Hotels, Resorts, Hospitality, Tour Operators and Businesses with Green Destinations, Global Leaders Program and Green Travel Guide platform to include Environmental Conservation and ComplianceGood Governance, Climate Resilience, to address global challenges of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): food security, poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability and climate resilience for the local host community. Water waste – STP (P.T. Amanaid Philippines) and Waste to Energy (W2E) solutions as well as other green destinations innovations are now offered to LGUs and tourism industry for law compliance.

For more information, contact us. 

 

Source: Expedia Travel World Heritage tips.

Photo credits: Al3 Photography for Coron photo.  

Sustainable seas, green economy in a blue world

 

TCI CB Series IV -Green Leaders Conference Workshop

 

Green economy in a blue world. Greening our ocean economies is a challenge that needs commitment from each of us – as the individual consumer, investor, entrepreneur or politician.  A less energy-intensive, more labor-intensive,  less destructive, more sustainable, less exclusive, more integrative approach will lead to more jobs, strengthen intra-and inter-generational equity and empower people to economic participation and greater self-determination. For the Philippines’ 7,107 islands archipelago , greening our coastal and marine resources means sustainable  management, conservation and protection, stronger resilience to economic or environmental shocks and social equity.” ~ The Coron Initiative (source: UNEP).

 

Boracay’s White Beach then and now.

I have been working for beaches most of my tourism career for almost three decades in various resorts in the Philippines. I pioneered in Boracay Island managing small resorts when there were only less than dozen in those days. Then, rapid, unsustainable development and environmental degradation just burgeoned. It was fate that brought me back full circle to the eco-depleted island after twenty years and I decided to do my part to form The Boracay Initiative, if only to enlighten public and private stakeholders to preserve their invaluable source of tourism livelihood.

The Coron Initiative, towards Sustainable Coron & Calamianes in the next millenium

The Coron Initiative, towards Sustainable Coron & Calamianes in the next millenium

I also had a chance to visit Coron, Palawan an emerging tourist destination, and I foresaw that without a Sustainable Tourism, Conservation and Social Responsibility framework, it will suffer the same destruction as Boracay. Thus, we also organized The Coron Initiative with Lead Advocate-NGO, Calamianes Cultural Conservation Network and in 2013, co-organized with our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. -SSTDI.

In 2010, I was also invited to home-province Negros Occidental, and visited marine conservation sites in Sagay’s Carbin Reef as well as Danjugan Island, where illegal fishing is rampant aside from mining threat. From then, I proposed The Negros Initiative, to set up a similar greening guideline for the province.

SSTDI leads Negros Occidental in sustainable tourism and development stewardship.

With my hands-on knowledge and experience at Inkaterra, Peru’s Eco pioneer, Carbon Negative and Conservation Leader, I shared the best practices in ecological conservation funded by tourism, the preservation of culture and heritage, while sharing it with the world.

At a recent UNEP conference (January 2012), 65 countries adopted the“Manila Declaration – Global Protection Agreement (GPA)” – to strengthen the protection of global marine environment from land-based activities, emphasizing coastal eco resources as a key factor in the shift to a green economy.  This GPA made in the Philippines is very relevant as its 7,107 islands are rapidly losing rich natural resources due to marine-related commercial activities, such as fisheries, inter-island transport, tourism, mining, etc. These massive businesses leave destruction and escalate environmental degradation, loss of vital coastal habitats, marine biodiversity and shore water quality as it did to Boracay Island, the proverbial goose that lays the golden eggs for Philippine Tourism. If not sustainably planned, Coron, Palawan, the next vulnerable tourism hot-spot will follow suit.

Coastal and Mangroves Destruction, Coron, Palawan, Philippines

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

The Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources has implemented an Integrated Coastal Resource Management Program (ICRMP) and the Coral Triangle Initiative  (CTI) to “promote the sustainable development and ensure the long term productivity of coastal resources while providing social services, lessening poverty in coastal communities as well as delivering basic infrastructure.”

SSTDI’Sustainable Tourism frameworks are being implemented in Coron and West Visayas with institutional partners Zero Carbon Resorts,Green Hotels and Clean Blue Asia Sustainable Beach Management. These “Triple Bottom Line” initiatives are crucial for destination planning and development strategies towards the greening of tourism.  With the Manila Declaration’s commitment to develop policies to reduce and control wastewater, marine litter and pollution, the ICMP and CTI as guidelines, we will work towards a green economy for the Philippines, seeking green investments in tourism that can contribute to economically viable and robust growth, provide decent jobs, poverty alleviation and reduced environmental impacts.

SSTDI’s  Capacity Building programs for cities and communities include Good Governance, Climate Change, Resilience, and Disaster Prevention & Management among others to implement green solutions to global issues for grassroots growth, from policies to practices.

Coron Environmental Forum by The Coron Initiative, a public-private sector cooperation

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

Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc.-SST offers LearningCapacity Building, Educational programs, Green Solutions and Services for public stakeholders: Destinations – LGUs and host communities;  Private stakeholders – Hotels, Resorts, Hospitality, Tour Operators and Businesses with Green Destinations, Global Leaders Program and Green Travel Guide platform to include Environmental Conservation and ComplianceGood Governance, Climate Resilience, to address global challenges of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): food security, poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability and climate resilience for the local host community. Water waste – STP (P.T. Amanaid Philippines) and Waste to Energy (W2E) solutions as well as other green destinations innovations are now offered to LGUs and tourism industry for law compliance.

For more information and assistance, contact us.

SSTDI is proud to be part of the Founding Board of the ASIAN ECOTOURISM NETWORK . 

AEN LOGO

 

The Boracay Initiative beckons – a serious call for conservation

We know the problems, we know the solutions. Sustainable development. The issue is the political will. ~ Ex PM Tony Blair

At Boracay White Beach, circa 1990 where Discovery Shores is now.

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!

Boracay Beach Club one of the first handful of “resorts” in the island.

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.

Boracay Beach Club now: Astoria , a concrete and glass edifice at the congested White Beach.

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.

What have they done to the World's Best Beach?

What have they done to the World’s Best Beach?

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?

 

Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc.-SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Educational programs for hotelsdestinations – 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.   
SSTDI is proud to be part of the Founding Board of the ASIAN ECOTOURISM NETWORK .  
AEN LOGO

 

 

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.-SST offers TrainingCapacity Building, Educational programs, Green Solutions and Services for public stakeholders: Destinations – LGUs and host communities;  Private stakeholders – Hotels, Resorts, Hospitality, Tour Operators and Businesses with Green Destinations, Global Leaders Program and Green Travel Guide capacity building and solutions to include Environmental Conservation and ComplianceGood Governance, Climate Resilience, to address global challenges of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): food security, poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability and climate resilience for the local host community. Waste water (P.T. Amanaid Philippines) and Waste to Energy (W2E) Solutions as well as other green destinations solutions and innovations are now offered to LGUs and tourism industry for law compliance.

Sustainable Tourism, the way forward

Foreword. Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc.-SST offers LearningCapacity Building, Educational programs, Green Solutions and Services for public stakeholders: Destinations – LGUs and host communities;  Private stakeholders – Hotels, Resorts, Hospitality, Tour Operators and Businesses with Green Destinations, Global Leaders Program and Green Travel Guide platform to include Environmental Conservation and ComplianceGood Governance, Climate Resilience, to address global challenges of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): food security, poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability and climate resilience for the local host community. Water waste – STP (P.T. Amanaid Philippines) and Waste to Energy (W2E) solutions as well as other green destinations innovations are now offered to LGUs and tourism industry for law compliance. 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

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

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

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