DOT ‘confident’ to take lead role in sustainable tourism

<p>World-famous Boracay Island</p>

World-famous Boracay Island

MANILA -- The Department of Tourism (DOT) expressed confidence that it is ready to take a “lead role” when it comes to tourism sustainability by showcasing Boracay Island as its model.

In an economic briefing in Malacañang on Wednesday, DOT Assistant Secretary Roberto Alabado III echoed DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat’s directive that for the country to become a quality destination tourist destination, it must ensure that it is also sustainable.

“Sustainability means we keep our oceans and mountains clean, promote our heritage sites as the nation’s treasures, and create destinations that will not only build communities but will also be enjoyed by the next generation,” Alabado explained.

“We cannot accept progress without inclusive development of all our stakeholders. It is the only way that we can truly create quality destinations in the region,” he added.

Accreditation policy

In 2018, the DOT joined forces with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to rehabilitate Boracay Island, which was once described by President Rodrigo Duterte as a “cesspool.”

Following a six-month closure and rehabilitation, the DOT now strictly enforces ‘No Compliance, No Accreditation’ policy. Accommodations now needed to be accredited before they can operate.

“Quality accommodations ensure that tourists will have a quality experience while in the Philippines,” Alabado noted.

As of July 10, 2019, there are already 356 establishments accredited to operate in the rehabilitated Boracay Island – with combined room capacity of 13,142.

Last month, the DOT bared that it will bid to host the next United Nations World Tourism Organization General Assembly in 2021 and the World Travel and Tourism Council or WTTC Global Summit in the same year.

“This move allows us to tell the world that we are confident in taking a leadership role when it comes to sustainability,” Alabado said.

Beyond Boracay

The DOT also underscored that their sustainability efforts go beyond Boracay.

They are also now closely monitoring other famous tourist destinations such as El Nido and Coron in Palawan, Panglao in Bohol, and Siargao.

“The Secretary (Puyat) just signed the creation of an intersectoral DOT technical working group, which was organized to develop and implement action plans in these tourist areas,” Alabado said.

Alabado, however, clarified that for these areas, a closure is not necessary.

He explained that they are now coordinating with regional offices of DENR and DILG in these areas to monitor the stricter implementation of the ‘No Compliance, No Accreditation’ policy to ensure that those operating in these areas follow government regulations. (Steffi Ramos, OJT/PNA)