ONE thing tourists can do to preserve a destination is to be responsible.
Following the opening of Boracay Island on Oct. 26, the Department of Tourism (DOT) vowed to aggressively campaign for responsible tourism to spare the “new Boracay” and similar destinations from environmental abuse and closure.
During his recent visit to Cebu for the Digital and Transformation Summit, DOT Policy Formulation and International Cooperation Officer Alex Macatuno reiterated some important tips for travelers to follow while they roam around the county’s tourism attractions.
This list of tips, he said, was developed by the World Committee on Tourism Ethics and based on the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Global Code of Ethics for Tourism.
Macatuno said the DOT also took the initiative to come up with a Tagalog version for Filipinos to better understand them.
“Tourism is everybody’s business. We should all be responsible in protecting and preserving our resources,” he said.
The DOT official pointed out that it is each tourist’s responsibility to research and learn about the destination prior to booking tickets. It also means a lot to the locals if tourists try to speak their language.
Macatuno pointed out that it is a good attitude to ask permission first before taking photos of people. Engaging locals in meaningful conversation that show interest in a destination’s culture and history is also a plus factor.
Another important tip for a responsible tourist is to be mindful of the environment. Macatuno said every traveler is encouraged to protect the planet by saying “no” to activities that destruct the environment. The UNWTO also discourages tourists from buying souvenirs that use endangered animals or plants.
Besides the cleanup of Boracay, Macatuno also suggests that Siargao Island be examined. He believes the island is not fully prepared to handle such a big volume of tourists.
“I’m a bit worried about Siargao,” said Macatuno, adding that local government units play a crucial role in properly managing island destinations.
He pointed out that Batanes, which is another crowd favorite, has already called for the reduction of flights and for reduction of promotional activities on social media to control the number of tourists visiting the island due to the scarcity of resources.
The UNWTO also advised travelers to support the local economy by buying locally-made souvenirs at fair prices.
Macatuno said it is a good gesture to buy souvenirs whenever visiting a destination. He said not only are they helping the livelihood of locals, they are also bringing with them fun memories of the destination.
Another important advice for travelers is to be an informed and respectful traveler. Macatuno said observing the laws of the place one visits will ensure one’s stay is trouble-free.
Holidays (59.19 percent) remain the main reason Filipinos travel around the country, followed by the need to visit friends (7.96 percent) and business-related trips (5.85 percent).
Cebu, Palawan, Boracay, Bohol and Pampanga are the top tourist destinations in the Philippines.
Macatuno said that while the 6.62 million tourists that visited the country is a small number compared to its neighboring Southeast Asian countries, the figure still speaks volumes, knowing the country’s archipelagic nature.
The DOT said it is on track to hitting its year-end target of 7.4 million foreign tourist arrivals this year.