THE inclusion of Bojo River in Green Destinations’ list of the world's top 100 sustainable destinations in 2016 is proof that Aloguinsan was correct in its approach in exploiting the town's major tourism resource. Incidentally, the person who announced this achievement, Cebu Provincial Tourism Office head Joselito Costas, had a role in attracting attention to Bojo River and in developing the now popular Bojo River cruise together with former Aloguinsan mayor Cynthia Moreno.
This is an important achievement for a number of reasons. For one, Green Destinations is a respected international organization promoting destinations for their quality and sustainability. And in the list of the sustainable destinations worldwide, only Bojo River from the Philippines made it to the top 100. As Costas said, this can be used as a badge in the promotion for the river.
The focus here is sustainability. There are many other beautiful destinations in the country and in the world, some of which are lovelier than Bojo River. But the Green Destinations listing zeroes in on the manner these fragile natural resources are being developed and managed.
Bojo River's inclusion in the list means Aloguinsan town got what the website www.destinationsfortomorrow.org described as the correct balance “between the expectations of tourists, the needs of the community, businesses which operate there, and the natural environment.” Meaning that the integrity of the fragile resource must be sustained (protected) even as it is opened up to tourists.
Sustainable destinations are assessed using the four pillars of sustainability: destination management, community involvement and benefits, conservation of natural and cultural heritage and environment protection. Apparently, Bojo River rated high when ranged against these four pillars.
The Bojo Aloguinsan Ecotourism Association manages the Bojo River Nature Reserve that includes the 1.4-kilometer river and adjacent areas. In running the cruise, which is done using a banca and not a motorized boat, the group gives a big chunk of the profit to the Aloguinsan municipal government, which in turn provide basic services to the Bojo River area. Another portion of the income goes to community projects.
In sum, the Aloguinsan experience should become a model for tourism development for the other local government units in Cebu. It is now the task of the Cebu Provincial Tourism Office to spread the good news, the experiences and lessons learned to other localities aiming to make their tourism programs fly.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 29, 2016.
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