Cimatu hopes to prevent future Boracay-like crisis with ecotourism tracking tool

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has high hopes for the newly launched ecotourism tracking tool (ETT) that will help monitor and evaluate activities in ecotourism sites across the country to prevent another Boracay-like crisis in the future.

Cimatu said the ETT, which was developed by the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), will help systemize the conservation and protection of ecotourism destinations prone to environmental degradation.

“I am confident the ETT will enable not just the DENR but all stakeholders to efficiently assess to which degree an ecotourism site is managed according to a set of sustainability indicators,” Cimatu said. “I have no doubt it will support proactive management of all ecotourism sites in the country.”

ERDB was earlier tasked by Cimatu to conduct a study that will determine the capacity of ecotourism sites, including the pollution-challenged Boracay Island, which has been ordered closed to tourists for six months starting last April 26.

Cimatu admitted that one of the reasons why Boracay suffered from environmental degradation was the “lack of guidelines, standards or certification mechanisms towards its effective management as an ecotourism area.”

This concern, according to ERDB Director Henry Adornado, will be addressed by the ETT manual, which was developed through an ERDB-led study from 2013 to 2014, in order to provides a quality certification system and sets parameters for the effective management of ecotourism sites.

“As ecotourism is one of the fastest growing sectors of the travel industry today, everyone wants to ride on its popularity,” Adornado pointed out.

“Some travel operators only show in their advertisements the positive image of their ecotourism-related activities, showing no or less considerations on the environmental degradation, social and cultural exploitation,” he added.

Using the eight-point ETT, resorts and other recreational and tourism operators will be monitored and evaluated in relation to their friendliness to the environment and adherence to ecotourism principles.

The parameters in evaluating ecotourism sites are policies, operations, management, sociocultural ecotourism products and services, economic benefits, financing/enterprising building, bioecological features, and facilities.

Upon consultation with DENR’s Biodiversity Management Bureau, Forest Management Bureau, Department of Tourism, Department of Science and Technology, and University of the Philippines – Los Baños, local government units, park managers, and private and community tour operators, the ERDB came out with a set of standards for ecotourism sites.

The bureau tested and validated the draft tool in selected potential ecotourism destinations in the country with two sets of respondents.

The first set of respondents include resort owners/managers, park authorities, tour operators and guides, government officials engaged in operating tourist destinations.

Concerned stakeholders affected by tourism activities, people’s organizations, non-government organizations, religious groups and the academe form the other set of respondents.

The tracking tool consisted of 62 questions, which were presented in a table format so as to record the details of the assessment.

Adornado said the ERDB recommends the ETT for use by the Department of Tourism, DENR’s Biodiversity Management Bureau, the local government units, ecotourism project implementers, private and community-based travel and tour operators.

Copies of the manual are already available at DENR-ERDB and it is also downloadable for free at the ERDB website (erdb.denr.gov.ph). 

The DENR-ERDB has also started distributing copies of the manual to various government offices, protected area managers, and local government units. #

DENR press releases and other news/feature articles are posted at the DENR website: www.denr.gov.ph. For queries/comments, write: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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