The Philippine Tourism Convention hosted by the Department of Tourism the other day at the Philippine International Convention Center was a much-needed respite from our daily routine, as events like this keep the fire “ablaze” in the hearts of tourism stakeholders with very interesting insights on various aspects of the industry.
However, I was quite disappointed to see that attendance was sparse. In fact, only half of the hall was occupied. It could be that the announcement of the event came too late, or maybe because the professionals in the industry were already too busy preparing for the onslaught of business in the coming holiday season.
Nevertheless, those who failed to join missed quite a lot of valuable information which they could use when they prepare their respective marketing plans.
I learned from the United Nation World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) representative, who was one of the speakers, that 348 million tourists travel around the world, and 25 percent of these travel to the Asia Pacific region, which experienced a 7 percent increase in arrivals last year.
This surge in tourism is perceived by most industry insiders as very good news. However, when we take a closer look at what “overtourism” can do to any destination, we should right away recall what happened to Boracay. Thus, everywhere else in the world, the mantra these days is Responsible Tourism towards Sustainable Tourism.
The dictionary describes Responsible Tourism as that which minimizes negative social, economic, and environmental impacts, as well as generates greater economic benefits for local people and enhances the well-being of the host communities.
Sustainable Tourism is that which is committed to making a low impact on the environment and local culture while helping generate future employment and development of the community.
Be that as it may, it is also important for us, stakeholders in the industry, to realize that our customers expect us to continuously innovate, be creative and always have a customer focus. This is the reason why the more successful enterprises are those that continuously evolve.
Tourism department Undersecretary Art Boncato, Jr. gave us a clearer picture of the status of Boracay after its six-month rehabilitation. First of all, he announced that Conde Nast Traveller magazine proclaimed the island as the eighth among the 20 Best Beach Destinations in the Asia Pacific Region, and the Best Dive Destination. In addition to these recognitions, our Tourism Secretary recently went to Japan to accept the Travel Award for the successful rehabilitation of Boracay.
Local and international tourists continue to rave about the island‘s now pristine white beaches and crystal clear water, something that hasn’t been seen there for many decades. Because of this almost-miraculous change, the island has become the “poster boy” for Tourism Sustainability in the world.
In order to preserve these positive changes, hotels and resorts now go for quality of tourists instead of quantity because the government has set a maximum number of tourists that can stay in the island at any given day. That number has been set at 19,215. Tourists without confirmed room reservations are not allowed to enter the island.
From the previous number of 500-plus, there are now only 386 resorts and hotels accredited by the Department of Tourism which made sure that those establishments not following the strictly enforced island ordinances were closed down. But because the currently approved establishments offer only a total of 14,161 rooms, which are not enough to accommodate visitors during the peak season, the DoT continues to accredit establishments that follow the government’s guidelines.
The sources of Boracay’s market have surprisingly changed during the last few months. Although domestic visitors still account for the biggest slice of the pie, China now leads in total arrivals followed by South Korea, Japan, and Germany, in that order.
With regards to the concern of some travel industry insiders that cruise ships cause negative consequences on the island’s sustainability, the Department of Tourism allows only those vessels with a maximum of 2,000 passengers, and only during the low season.
The best news that was announced by Boncato was the fact that sophisticated medical facilities are now available on the island and all types of medical emergencies can now be handled onsite.
With all these positive changes, Boracay is now the template used by other beach destinations in the country, in their efforts to continuously attract more visitors and still ensure their sustainability.
Let’s all work for Responsible and Sustainable Tourism.
For feedback, I’m at [email protected]YOUR weekend CHUCKLE
WIFE: Look at that drunk guy.
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