Tourism officers commit to Sustainable Ecotourism Practices
Tourism officers from six local government units in Palawan signed a commitment board to promote sustainable tourism practices, during the Forum on Sustainable Ecotourism Practices to Safeguard Palawan’s Biodiversity last March 11 to March 12 at Best Western Ivywall Hotel, Puerto Princesa City.
The forum, held by Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff and USAID Protect Wildlife, aims to enable local government units to practice sustainable tourism without adversely affecting Palawan’s biodiversity.
Provincial Tourism Officer Maribel Buni reviewed the key elements of National Tourism Development Plan of the Philippines
which vision is to “develop a globally competitive, environmentally sustainable and socially responsible tourism industry that promotes inclusive growth . . .”
Dr. Corazon Sinha, senior lecturer at Tourism Heritage Studies of Western Sydney University, stressed the importance of prioritizing the environment component in ecotourism to ensure sustainability. She warned that destinations will “collapse” when the management of natural resources is poorly planned.
On the other hand, USAID Protect Wildlife Adviser Wilbur Dee presented the guidelines and generic steps in preparing a land use plan in forest lands, protected areas, and ancestral domain within the context of Comprehensive Land Use Plan. Dee emphasized that tourism must not be “reactive,” instead, ecotourism network must be established first before developing the market.
To address the budget restraints for attaining a true ecotourism, Former Director of DENR-FASPS Edwin Domingo reviewed the foreign-assisted projects that were awarded to Palawan to advance the conservation of the province’s rich biodiversity. He encouraged the officers to be clear with what they need and want and use the available funds because millions of the grants awarded for biodiversity were often returned or reduced because of the lack of utilization.
Mr. John Fontilla, supervisor of PCSD ECAN Coastal Marine, explained the need to pay ecosystem goods and services in return for a guaranteed flow of ecosystem services. He presented the context and key processes in drafting a Palawan policy on Payment for Ecosystem Goods and Services.
The participating tourism officers were from Taytay, Narra, Bataraza, Puerto Princesa, El Nido, and Balabac. They signed the pledge to get familiar with existing plans and guidelines of ecotourism and land use plans in Palawan; appreciate the foreign-assisted conservation and development projects in Palawan; value the sustainability indicators in planning and management of island ecotourism, and practice the island tourism that does not jeopardize Palawan’s biodiversity.