Senator Nancy Binay on Thursday suggested that the Department of Tourism promote responsible tourism through a campaign that will teach tourists about the values of caring for the environment.
The proposal came following reports of complaints from residents and environmental advocates about the trash left behind by revelers of “Laboracay”, a Labor Day weekend event held in Boracay Island that draws thousands of party-goers every year.
Binay noted that it is within the DOT’s mandate to protect, maintain and preserve natural endowments and take appropriate actions if there are acts that would lead to the destruction of the environment, disturb nature or bring negative impacts on communities.
“The Department of Tourism and its attached agencies should not only be concerned with the promotion of the country’s tourist spots but also their protection. Commercialization of nature coupled with unethical practices and irresponsible tourism are ingredients to ‘ecocide’ that have an exploitative impact on the environment and communities,” said Binay, who heads the committee on tourism of the Senate.
According to Binay, there is a need for an information drive that would encourage tourists to take a second look at the exploitative impact of mega-events on tourist destinations such as Boracay.
Boracay Island is a top tourist destination in the country and has been ranked among Asia’s 2017 Top Islands in TripAdvisor’s 2017 Traveler’s Choice Awards. Tourist arrivals in the island was up by 11 percent last year, reaching 1,725,483, compared to 1,560,106 in 2015.
But the island’s main attraction, a 4-kilometer sliver of coastline known as White Beach, has often been photographed littered with discarded food wrappers, cigarette butts, plastic bags and bottles. Littering has marred the once pristine beach enjoyed by thousands every year. And while a number of cleanup efforts are organized every year, the island’s trash woes still continue to plague its communities.
Without intervention, Binay lamented that the same thing could happen to other destinations in the country that have recently been cited in international travel publications. She also cited Puerto Galera and Baguio City’s trash problems.
“We know that tourism campaigns work because hyped up and greatly commercialized events have managed to draw thousands to these shores. But this time, I hope that we can work together in calling for the promotion of responsible tourism. We must convince organizers and tourists alike to choose to be responsible for their actions and comply with the conditions set by LGUs,” said Binay.
“Sayang ang potensyal natin bilang isang top tourist destination kung hahayaan lamang nating masira ang ating kapaligiran. Tayong mga Pilipino ay likas na mapagmahal at maalaga, ito po ay maaari rin nating ituro sa ating mga magiging bisita sa pamamagitan ng isang makabuluhang information campaign na magpapakita ng magandang maidudulot ng pangangalaga sa kalikasan para sa turismo ng ating bansa,” she added.