Green fun

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Monday, November 19, 2012


IT’S fun in the Philippines, insisted the Department of Tourism’s new slogan. Judging with the latest official YouTube Philippine Department of Tourism audio-visual presentation, I can only agree.

Many of the AVPs emphasize the value of the country’s natural resources. The Bohol tarsier, Mt. Mayon, coastal beaches and marine resources, marine and tropical forest resources, the St. Paul Subterranean Cave, and other quaint Filipino cultural sites.

Let’s grin with the DOT’s green tourism. In this age of climate change and environmental degradation, the campaign is a welcome relief. Get the tourists to enjoy the sites and pay for their ecological conservation.

I’m happy to note that Negros Occidental will be in the thick of it. Come November 22–23, 2012, the Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development, Inc. (STTDI) will host the “Negros Occidental Environment & Sustainable Tourism Forum” at the L’Fisher Hotel in Bacolod City.

Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are. In this case, tell me who the Forum presenters are and I can tell you if it’s the real deal. They include Liza J. Paguntalan of the Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation Inc.; Reinero S. Medrano of the Energy Development Corporation; DENR-EMB Region VI Director Atty Jonathan P. Bulos; Atty. Wilfred Ramón Peñalosa, Provincial Environment Management; and Susan Santos de Cárdenas, SSTDI, CEO & President, an expert on Green Hotels that interface with grassroots application.

Having worked with several of them on biodiversity or reforestation projects, it would be a fantastic opportunity to have them on new projects, especially those dealing with sustainable mountain development.

The Forum will act as a recruiting ground for stakeholders from the tourism sector, government regulatory agencies, resort-hotels, travel, transport, leisure and tourism related businesses, SMEs, service providers, real estate developers, investors, non-government organizations, environmental and outdoor groups, civic clubs, the academia, as well as concerned individuals to enhance their knowledge on environmental responsibilities, best green experiences and sustainable tourism principles and practices.

What used to be the jargon of ecological organizations are now seeping into a growing number of green corporations. Let me welcome them to the green club.

The Forum invitation talks of the usual environmental conservation, social responsibility, but in the context of sustainable tourism for Negros Occidental and West Visayas with Green Hotels, Zero Carbon Resorts and The Clean Blue as major stakeholders, the buzzwords in this year’s UN-initiated Rio +20 Conference.

The Forum expects that participants will enhance their knowledge and ability to contribute to protect the environment, help mitigate the effects of climate change and espouse green practices.

The United Nations recognizes the role of sustainable tourism. The Tourism Chapter of the Green Economy Report, prepared jointly by UNWTO and UNEP, calls for green tourism to make use of its potential to create new, green jobs. Travel and tourism are human-resource intensive, employing directly and indirectly eight percent of the global workforce. It is estimated that one job in the core tourism industry creates about one and a half additional or indirect jobs in the tourism-related economy.

The greening of tourism, which involves efficiency improvements in energy, water and waste systems, is expected to reinforce the employment potential of the sector with increased local hiring and sourcing and significant opportunities in tourism oriented toward local culture and the natural environment.

Increasing the involvement of local communities, especially the poor, in the tourism value chain can, therefore, contribute to the development of the local economy and to poverty reduction. The province can strengthen links with the organic industry and produce non-timber forest products for the souvenir sub-industry. Truly win-win green fun for the stakeholders.

Please email comments to bqsanc@yahoo.com

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on November 19, 2012.

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