Today’s brand of quality travelers has become so environmentally conscious that they want to make the most minimal impact of their tourist activities.
They look for hotels and restaurants which serve organic food, use earth-friendly energy and water systems, and take care for Mother Earth a part of their corporate management philosophy.
One emerging technology in the tourism industry is the ecolodge, described by the International Ecotourism Society as the design, development and operations of future lodges that uphold the social and ecological integrity of their given environments.
This type of tourist facility allows for sustained benefits from ecotourism without damaging or destroying the very natural resources on which they depend.
This movement is now in the country and this earth-friendly building technologies was the focus of the Ecolodge Design and Planning Workshop featuring multi-awarded eco-architect and natural landscape artist Hitesh Mehta, acknowledged as the world’s ecolodge guru.
Held on Sept. 19 to 23 at the International School of Sustainable Tourism (ISST) in Subic Bay Freeport Zone, the training course and workshop provided participants with eco-friendly site planning techniques to enable them to implement ecolodge guidelines and certification standards.
Mehta also delivered lectures on “Ecotourism and Ecolodges,” “Site Analysis and Planning Ecoutourism Facilities,” “Architectural Aspects of Ecotourism Facilities,” and “Creative Design, Technology and Construction Trends in Ecolodges.”
Recognized by the United Nations, Metah has done projects in more than 55 countries on housing, community centers, national parks and nature reserve, tourism accommodations, malls, religious and cultural centers.
A collaboration with the United Architects of the Philippine and the Philippine Association of Landscape Architects, the course is designed for landscape architects, land developers, professors and students on design and architects, eco-tour operators, local communities and companies interested in investing in eco-friendly tourism structures.
Presentations included “Impact of Tourism on Indigenous Flora and Fauna in the Philippines” by Philippine Native Plants Conservation Society President Anthony Arbias, “Sustainability Initiatives in Tourism” by Palawan Council for Sustainable Development executive Director Nelson Devanadera.
There was also an input on contextual Filipino architecture that took into account the availability of indigenous materials, topography and local design.
According to ISST President Mina Gabor, the five-day course enabled participants to incorporate renewable energy and efficient waste and water management systems into design and construction, and reduce building footprints by integrating infrastructure with natural landscape.
She said that participants also conducted an onsite metaphysical and physical analysis of the Dinalupihan Nature Park in Bataan, and presented conceptual ecolodge site plans for the plenary workshop.
Gabor said the workshop was in line with the country’s hosting of the first Asia Pacific Natural Landscape Conference and Exhibition in April 2017.
She noted there are only very few ecolodges, as they must conform to stringent ecotourism standards and criteria of an authentic ecolodge, and expressed hope that it will be a norm among tourist facilities worldwide.
In the Philippines, only El Nido Resorts in Palawan qualify as authentic ecolodge because of the hotel chain’s environmentally sustainable management policies. Comprised of the Island Resorts of Pangulasian, Miniloc, Lagen and Apulit, they will be included in the next edition of Mehta’s Authentic Ecolodges in the World book.
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