In celebration of World Environment Day 2021, the Department of Tourism (DOT) urged hotels and resorts to become DOT-accredited to receive assistance in its rapid adoption of sustainable practices.
DOT Secretary Berna Romulo Puyat stated, “Reviving local economy and creating livelihood is DOT’s current priority. However, the pandemic has allowed us to be more persistent in our goal to instill accountability in businesses to become more sustainable.”
Puyat explained that the perks of being accredited equate to getting assistance from DOT in many aspects of running a tourism enterprise, but more specifically, access to technical tools and experts that can help an establishment make the transition to going green.
“DOT will continue to focus on marketing sustainability to the public- educating them on how to be sustainable tourists while also encouraging tourists to support accredited businesses that have exemplary green practices,” Puyat said.
Setting the foundation
The Tourism Act of 2009, the Philippines’ first and only tourism law, has long served as the top tourism body’s bible in coming up with programs that will benefit the industry.
A recent example is DOT’s 2019 Save Our Spots (SOS) campaign, which aimed to inspire the public, businesses, and communities to have a long-term view on tourism. Another program DOT’s Joint Memorandum Circular on the Rules and Regulations Governing the Conduct of Marine Wildlife Tourism Interaction in the Philippines (JMC), together with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Agriculture (DA), and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
“The DOT has been working on integrating sustainable tourism principles in its projects and policies. We have been teaching our tourists and tourism operators to do the small things we can do to preserve our tourism destinations,” shared Secretary Puyat.
The DOT also conducts community-based training for the tourism workforce, including boatmen, masseuses, and souvenir vendors, among others, to provide them with technical skills and knowledge that will help them do their jobs better. Food waste management seminars are also offered to accommodation and restaurant owners and culinary training that aim to reintroduce heritage or local dishes to tourists.
Adapting green practices
The number one asset of tourism is the country’s natural resources, and tourism establishments have a role in conserving these.
The DOT has revised the accreditation standards for hotels and resorts to incorporate environmental indicators in the star rating system of these types of accommodation establishments, aiming to encourage business owners to be more environment-friendly in their day-to-day operations. Through technical assistance from the European Union-GRAT, the DOT developed the ANAHAW Philippine Sustainable Tourism Certification awards in 2018 for the same reason, making it the local equivalent of the ASEAN Green Hotel Awards.
ANAHAW looks into how accommodation establishments manage and reduce their waste, energy consumption, and water consumption. Corporate social responsibility is also a factor, with establishments that employ locals and purchase local goods fairing higher in the rating system.
The ANAHAW certification will put an enterprise with a competitive advantage because the consciousness of our travelers right now is already very high.
“The ANAHAW certification is one of our ways to ensure we provide excellent service for our tourists without compromising our natural resources and the community. Our tourists are more likely to support tourism operators that care for the environment,” said Secretary Puyat.
Examples of establishments that have received the ANAHAW certification include Crimson Hotel and Spa Mactan in Cebu, Nurture Wellness Village in Tagaytay, Club Balai Isabel in Batangas, and Daluyon Beach and Mountain Resort in Palawan.
Executing the right campaigns and having compliant establishments can only work if tourists themselves recognize their role in the path to sustainable tourism.
The main goal of sustainable tourism is for future generations to experience and enjoy the same, if not better, resources present today. As native Filipinos from olden times joined hands to carry houses from one location to another, working towards the goal of sustainable tourism also requires collective effort towards the same goal or Bayanihan. From government bodies, tourism establishments to ordinary citizens, everyone plays a role and is given a chance to embody the spirit that’s innate within Filipinos.
Achieving this is a continuous journey, but with government leaders, tourism establishments, and ordinary Filipinos embodying the spirit of Bayanihan and recognizing this shared responsibility, sustainable tourism will be within reach.