Ecotourism conference pushes through

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Thursday, February 6, 2014


MARINE ecotourism is the highlight of this year’s fifth World Ecotourism Conference on February 20 to 22 in Cebu.

Anchored on the theme,  “Marine and Coastal Ecotourism: Oceans of Uncertainties, Waves of Opportunities,” the three-day event, according to a Department of Tourism (DOT) press statement, will discuss the impacts of ecotourism activities linked to the seas such as whale shark watching, snorkeling, scuba diving, and recreational fishing.

Rescheduled

The conference will also tackle the socio-economic aspects of the industry such as development of destinations, management of marine ecotourism spots, marketing, and the elimination of poverty through sustainability. 

The event was originally scheduled last Nov. 13 to 15 but was postponed to give way to government’s post-disaster activities for people affected by the two calamitie that hit the province late last year.

“The rescheduling was deemed necessary to give way for the national and local government units to complete their post activities, as well as to give the local people of earthquake-stricken Bohol and Cebu a chance to recover from the recent catastrophe,” the organizers said.

Success

The conference is co-organized by the DOT and Discovery Mice of Malaysia and endorsed by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UN-WTO). Mice stands for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions.

Discovery Mice president and chief executive officer Lee Choon Loong, in past interviews said, they picked the Philippines, particularly Cebu City, as the host destination for the conference because of its huge reserve of natural resources and of the province’s success story on ecotourism development.

Participants

He said they will use the three-day conference as a platform to unite stakeholders who are into various eco-tourism-related advocacies.

According to the DOT, representatives from government, industry, civil society, and the academe from all over the world are expected to discuss development and sustainability of industries linked to marine and coastal ecotourism.

The conference will gather over 400 tourism affiliates from 155 countries. 

“The Philippines is the perfect host to this year’s World Ecotourism Conference. Part of the country’s National Tourism Development Plan’s (NTDP) strategic directions is to develop competitive and sustainable products and destinations which will provide economic opportunities and protect the environment,” said Tourism Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez Jr. in a statement.

“We want the Philippines to take the lead in involving local communities and government units in conservation work, especially that the livelihood of many Filipinos are linked to the seas. We also welcome the participation of tourism and environment officials from Asean to reinforce the region’s common resolve to cooperate on ecotourism development in Southeast Asia,” he added.

Tour options

Aside from Cebu, the participants will be toured around the nearby island of Bohol to showcase examples of thriving marine ecotourism spots. Optional tours include whale shark interaction in Oslob, Cebu, and a visit to the Puerto Princesa, Underground River in Palawan.

In 2012, the Philippines was also host to the Asean Ecotourism Conference where Jimenez discussed Executive Order No. 111 detailing the national ecotourism strategy through sustainable management of destinations, education and awareness, involvement of local communities, and development of tourism products.

‘More fun’

“We strive to make our local communities become the managers of their own destinations.  Responsible stewardship is key to making our destinations more fun.

Our goal is to be one of the successful tourism-powered economies practicing responsible, ethical, and sustainable tourism,” the tourism chief said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 07, 2014.

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