As more Filipinos travel around the country, it opens up cultural and leisure opportunities that were not accessible and available to previous generations. Tourism has also provided employment and business opportunities to rural communities which lack a diversified economy.
But there is another side to tourism expansion. Natural habitats and ecosystems are affected by the development of roads, hotels, restaurants, and other establishments. Leisure activities such as trekking, climbing and scuba diving also have negative impacts such as littering and damage to coral reefs, flora and even fauna.
Leading Philippine carrier Cebu Pacific ramps up its “Juan Effect” sustainable tourism program, particularly in its pilot area of Siargao Island. A partnership with the Department of Tourism (DOT), “Juan Effect” aims to mitigate the impact of tourist arrivals on the environment.
“Juan Effect” engages travelers and local stakeholders, raising awareness among Filipinos about their responsibilities as tourists and encourages them to make a difference by changing one daily habit. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Interior and Local Government are also involved in the roll-out of “Juan Effect.”
Cebu Pacific has been mounting flights in and out of Siargao for the past ten years—the very first airline to do so. Since then, the island has become a popular tourist destination, on top of maintaining its status as a world-class surfing area.
“Since we launched ‘Juan Effect’ in August 2018, we have been working with the local government units in Siargao and the province of Surigao Del Norte to spur concerted action to properly manage the ever-increasing visitor numbers, ease the negative impact of tourism on the island, and balance the social and environmental concerns with its economic benefits,” said Candice Iyog, Vice President for Marketing and Distribution of Cebu Pacific.
Cebu Pacific flies once daily between Manila and Siargao and up to four times a day between Siargao and Cebu using its fleet of ATR 72-600 aircraft, which has the lowest fuel consumption and the lowest environmental footprint in its category. The ATR 72-600 produces 40% less carbon dioxide emissions than other turboprops. And as with all other Cebu Pacific and Cebgo flights, all non-recyclable plastic spoons, forks, stirrers and cups used for inflight meals have been replaced with sustainable alternatives.
So far, the implementation of the “Juan Effect” program has resulted in the passage of ordinances in some municipalities in Siargao that pertain to waste reduction and the usage of single-use plastic. To help educate tourists and local residents, colorful murals and signs made of used surfboards have also been put up prior to the peak surfing season that began in September 2018.
The airline also commissioned the design and fabrication of receptacles that tourists can use to properly dispose of plastic bottles, which can then be collected to be made into eco bricks or recycled. Designed to withstand strong waves and winds, these plastic bottle receptacles will be deployed at key points in Siargao as well as outlying islands to encourage proper waste disposal.
Cebu Pacific will also work with local stakeholders to introduce practices to minimize waste in the ground and in the ocean. Engagement activities will be led by “Juan Effect” advocates Erwan Heussaff, Jasmine Curtis-Smith, and Kyle “Kulas” Jennerman. To drum up even more public awareness and support, a colorful mural of the underwater designed by fast-rising visual artist and muralist, Anina Rubio, will be painted on the perimeter wall of the Dapa Elementary School to bring life to the community and inspire everyJuan to contribute towards improving the environment.
Join Cebu Pacific in keeping the Philippine islands clean and beautiful by making a pledge at www.juaneffect.com.
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