Nov 20, 2019

Last time, we wrote about the environmental impact of flying, from carbon emissions to the excessive amounts of single-use packaging one consumes when they travel. 

[READ: Let’s talk about “the elephant onboard”: airline waste]

What we forgot to mention in that story is the effect of tourism on the destinations and the future of these sites, which thankfully the new Department of Tourism (DOT) campaign touches on.

Sustainable tourism has long been a topic of discussion not just here at but also with local practitioners and communities who are often most hit by the disruption a sudden surge in tourists bring to their locale.

nolisoli boracay
Boracay’s long beach, one week after its reopening

[READ: Have you been a responsible traveler?]

We saw this in Boracay, which after decades of becoming the flagship tourist destination of the country, has suffered mostly because of overdevelopment and lack of proper systems to facilitate sewage treatment.

In Basilan, a white-sand beach called Malamawi, which we visited last year, is learning from the challenges that lead to the closure and rehabilitation of Boracay. 

[READ: This white sand beach in Basilan doesn’t want to be the next Boracay]

But other than community-led initiatives, it was time visiting tourists do their part in keeping these sites alive and viable for the next generation.

“This movement calls for each individual to do their part in acting as a responsible tourist and encouraging the same behavior towards their peers,” DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said. “Sustainable tourism as a whole may seem like an ambitious venture but every small contribution will go a long way to collectively benefit the country’s tourism status, precious destinations, and valued lives.”

The DOT “Save our Spots” or SOS campaign is part of the agency’s long-term commitment to making local tourism “More Fun Forever”—by “fun” they mean, sustainable not just for the sake of profit but for the sake of maintaining the sites out of respect to nature and its inhabitants, local cultures, and heritage.

SOS is directed to three main stakeholders in tourism: the local communities, the businesses, and the tourists. 

Apart from boosting the number of foreign visitors and raising the revenue derived from this influx, sustainable tourism also means job opportunities for those who are living within close vicinity to these spots. It means retention of the customs and traditions observed in particular regions and ensuring that it will be passed on to generations to come.

As the SOS campaign video mentions, “This fun won’t last forever”—that is if we continue with our current ways of exploitation and reckless abandon. As we have learned from Boracay, it will take more than just banning of straws or the closure of businesses who violate environmental codes, it’s a mindset, a willingness to make a change and to affect change through small and big actions. 


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TAGS: DOT eco tourism responsible traveling save our spots sustainable tourism tourism travel