CLARK FREEPORT -- World tourism leaders are expected to attend the country’s first ecotourism forum set on May 29 to June 1 at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center.

The first Subic Ecotourism Festival is in line with the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s declaration of 2017 as the "International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development."

Ronnie Tiotuico, Department of Tourism (DOT) Central Luzon regional director, said the event will highlight ecotourism which is a vital concept in the booming industry in biodiversity-rich countries like the Philippines.

“It’s about learning how to take care of our environment and preserving the culture of the host community including the economic and social benefit to the communities all over Central Luzon,” Tiotuico said.

The event, organized by the International School of Sustainable Tourism and the DOT, is aimed at bringing together leaders of the Global Ecotourism Network (GEN) and its regional subsidiary, the Asian Ecotourism Network.

Speakers during the forum include GEN Chairman Glenn Jampol and vice chairman Tony Charters, as well as general board members Robert Holmes of Australia, Hitesh Mehta of Kenya, Masaru Takayama of Japan, Nabil Tarazi of Jordan and Albert Teo of Malaysia.

Other foreign keynote speakers are Conservation Ecology Center-Australia CEO Lizzie Corke, Australian Small Scale Offerings Board International Australia CEO Paul Niederer, Vietnam’s Sapa O’Chau Founder and Director Tan Thi Su, Travel Impact Newswire Executive Editor Imtiaz Muqbil, Mahidol University International College Assistant Dean Kaetwa Muangasame, Bond Asian Ventures Limited Chairman Greg Duffel, Indecon Indonesia Director Ary Suhandi and Global Sustainable Tourism Council CEO Randy Durband.

Tourism Undersecretary Silvino Tejada of the newly created Farm, Faith and Ecotourism portfolio, who will also be among the speakers, said the gathering would help create a resolution for ecotourism stakeholders in the country.

Participants will conduct a case study for the development or improvement of an ecotourism project in the Subic free port area.

The forum was designed for government policy-makers, infrastructure development executives, tourism, travel and hospitality professionals, as well as faculty members and students.

The Tourism Promotions Board, Environment, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority and Philippine Airline as official carrier are supporting the event. (Reynaldo G. Navales)