Advocate wants holistic approach to sustainable tourism

One of the well-known eco-tourism sites in Davao City is the Eden Nature Park in Toril. RJ LUMAWAG

A TOURISM advocate wants the Philippines to have a holistic approach to sustainable tourism by also advocating responsible tourism in the country.

Emilie Hagedoorn, owner of Green Heart Tourism, said on Tuesday, September 28 the country has a huge potential of being a leading hotspot for “green tourism.”

However, the country cannot achieve sustainability without responsible tourism.

“The key thing with the issue of sustainability is that it implies that we have some sort of end goal when we know that the planet has finite resources. At some point, we have extracted everything that we can, and we need to, maybe, change our lifestyles increasingly going forward,” Hagedoorn said.

She added, “And instead of trying to achieve sustainability, it’s much more about all of us individually taking responsibility for those little aspects of the way we live and travel.”

However, she said in order for the country to become a green tourism hotspot, she lobbied for some measures the government could work on.

One is to involve communities in tourism, and train them how to be a part of it in a “better and responsible way.”

She also said there is a need to “decarbonize tourism” by switching from traditional vehicles to the electric-type of vehicles.

“Switching to electric vehicles is highly recommended especially to areas that heavily rely on air traffic to get from one place to another,” Hagedoorn said.

In addition, she said some parts of the country, rural and agricultural tourism can be pushed as alternative tourism.

“I would encourage all countries, regardless of really having an integrated holistic approach to sustainable tourism. Put sustainable tourism as a focus point,” Hagedoorn said.

Rethink the tourism industry

Hagedoorn was the guest speaker during the World Tourism Day 2022 round table discussion organized by the Joji Ilagan College of Business and Tourism and the International Management School.

The advocate said there is a need to rethink the tourism industry brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

She said the government should restrategize its tourism campaign, now that restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic had been lifted.

Hagedoorn said green tourism emerged during the onslaught of the pandemic because people realized the importance of having a “healthy lifestyle and environment.”

“People have started to wake up to the call about how we live and travel the world. I think a lot of people have learned their lesson because of the pandemic,” she said.

“The pandemic was like a sort of handbrake pull on our lifestyles, and I think a lot of countries needed it because we tended to sort of really focus obsessively on growth, more bigger, better, very profit driven, but when you start to lose your loved ones and you are being restricted to reaching those loved ones, you reevaluate what life is all about,” she added.

Also, she said the entire world should rethink its dependence on international arrivals and that “they need to respect and foster their domestic market.”

“That is a key ingredient of restarting tourism is really cultivating your domestic and regional tourism market because that can be your bread and butter going forward. And international tourism arrivals can be a sort of extra layer of tourism income that you can work on,” Hagedoorn said.

Domestic and regional tourism can foster a culture of people living in urban environments to go out into nature and experience the atmosphere of rural areas.

Meanwhile, she also saw a trend in the urban landscape as some cities had been pushing for more bicycle lanes, while there were also emerging glamping sites and eco farms, which developed new business ventures in the mountainous part of various islands that she visited in the country. RGL


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