Luczon: Environment, culture-based tourism is a must

TOURISM is quite perplexing, it may bring goodness, it can also make things bad.

Tourism invites other people not within our own localities to visit the places of beauty, and let the wonders of nature engross them, and hopefully come back to appreciate it. In turn, this may profit local traders, then eventually boost local economies, and generate jobs for locals.

And yet, the problem with our tourism sector remains unresolved until such a time it has created a monster out of it. Sometimes, our over hospitality to guests is our worst nightmare.

Because we want to make guests, the tourists, feel comfortable and welcome, we make actions that would pander to their whims in order to stay longer. That is why we destroy the natural order of things, turning virgin and pristine resources and scenic views into a commercial haven. And partly it is also a creation out of greed. For money and profit, that in order to eke out the hefty money these tourists brought, these local and big traders are competing with high prices in food, accommodations, even services and merchandises.

And we are not even talking here about sex tourism, that the tourism industry keep a blind eye for many years, something worth to discuss in a separate column.

So when president Rodrigo Duterte threatened to close down resorts in Boracay, this means the tourism industry has to consider massive paradigm shift and practices on what should tourism in the Philippines represent. Not just Boracay, but recent reports suggested that even Panglao Islands in Bohol will be next if genuine environmental compliance are met.

This is what Philippine tourism has become over time. We keep on giving and showcasing, at the cost of ruining our environment at the expense of environmental abuse and along it, its cultural degeneration?

Yes, there are tourists who appreciated our nature and cultural values, but there are also those who are ignorant who only travel for their selfish pleasure without a tinge of respect in our environment, traditions, and let alone our laws.

How many coastal communities have to sacrificed? How many forests in the mountains have to be burned? How many ancestral domains have to be sold in the name of selfish and inconsiderate tourism industry?

That is why I seldom go to tourist hotspots especially when I am traveling alone. I'd rather see untouched communities and sceneries that are not intervened much by tourism agents. At least I can see its raw beauty, before multitude of tourists will plague them and eventually lose its richness.

This is a call to all tourism players in the government and private sectors: find a way to promote our country and at the same time encourage tourists to be more responsible and in turn help us protect and preserve our environment and culture. Not the other way around.

*****

(Nefluczon@gmail.com)
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