GSTC Philippines National Forum on Sustainable Tourism Standards & Development Held in Boracay Island, Philippines
The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) together with the Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. (SSTDI) and LEADimpact Asia, presented the GSTC – The Philippines National Forum last March 15-16, 2018, in the highly controversial Boracay Island, Philippines.
The Forum was supported by national agencies, Department of Tourism (DOT), Tourism Infrastructure & Economic Zone Authority (TIEZA), and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG, Control Union Philippines, Globe Telecom, LGU and Tourism Office of Malay, and institutional partners Asian Ecotourism Network, Marine Wildlife Watch, Echo Store, Water Environment Association of the Philippines, and Hotel and Restaurant Association of the Philippines (HRAP).
The National Forum, themed “Global Sustainable Tourism Standards & Development” brought in experts from Quintana Roo, Mexico, in particular GSTC Trainer, Country Representative and Sustainable Riviera Maya CEO, Ms. Beatriz Barreal, and Architect, Nature & Design Expert, Arturo Amaya, who taught and shared the best practices, lessons learned from Cancun & Playa del Carmen, Mexico, especially at the height of the highly contested issue of the impending closure of Boracay Island, amidst reports of environmental destruction.
GSTC CEO Randy Durband opened the Forum with a talk on Global Sustainable Tourism Council Criteria, followed by DOT Undersecretary Alma Rita Jimenez presentation on programs in sustainable tourism development and promotion. The Forum was also attended by the DOT Director for Standards and Regulations, Danilo Intong. DILG Assistant Regional Director for Region VI delivered a talk on LGUs Crucial role in Climate Change Mitigation and Disaster Risk Reduction and Management especially critical in the Philippines’ coastal tourism areas. The Honorable Pasig Councilor shared his vision on Sustainable Tourism as a tool to alleviate poverty with his learning experience from a GSTC Training in Jeju, Korea, while Masaru Takayama, Chair of Asian Ecotourism Network (AEN) presented about their sustainable ecotourism initiatives in Asia and ASEAN, with compliance to GSTC standards, where several AEN Board Members are also GSTC Trainers and Country Representatives.
More learning on Coastal Marine Ecosystems conservation was imparted by Dr. AA Yaptinchay, President of Marine Wildlife Watch where attendees learned for the first time the critical importance of protecting marine ecosystems. Ms. Chit Juan of Echo Store shared about good practices in Sustainable Consumption and Production, while Engineer Eric Raymundo taught about GSTC criteria in Water and Waster Waste Management. Control Union Philippines, represented by Lorenz Tolentino talked about their various Certification programs in the country.
Day 2 of the Forum was focused on learning the GSTC Standards from Government Policy and Destination Management to Best Practices for Hotels, Tour Operators and MICE, and last but not the least, the most relevant and critical topic for Philippines tourism scenario, GSTC recognized Best Practices in Architecture, Nature and Design presented by Arturo Amaya, of Arquitectonica, S.A. Mexico, who showed sustainable resort models with environmental and biodiversity conservation as its basis from construction to operations. A mini-workshop followed wherein participants discussed and shared ideas on the challenges and solutions in implementing Sustainable Tourism in their particular responsibilities.
With the knowledge earned from the two-day forum, the delegates were eager to replicate Sustainable Trainings in their respective areas, in particular, on Sustainable Destinations and Hotels. In this regard, GSTC Philippines Country Representative Susan Santos de Cardenas signified that perhaps another GSTC Forum or Training Program will be scheduled within the year.