‘Ecotourism can promote local sites, but weigh costs, impact’
Local government units were challenged to develop tourism packages that are environmentally sustainable and at the same time economically viable for local communities.
Eco-tourism can contribute to labor employment and the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) said Assistant Regional Director Efren Carreon of the National Economic Development Authority – Central Visayas (Neda-7).
“There is big room for improvement in the tourism industry and eco-tourism can help us go that way,” said Carreon on Tuesday during an Eco-tourism Summit, the first of a series of public forums, held in the Cebu CIty Hall.
Eco-tourism can address problems of deforestation and pollution.
“Eco-tourism may not be the universal remedy for all the environmental problems but a strategy for sustainable development,” said Boboi Costas, who helped set up the community-based Bojo River eco-tour in Aloguinsan town, southwest Cebu. Costas is also founder of Grassroots Travel.
Starting an eco-tourism package in the different local government units (LGU) remains a challenge.
“We have to strengthen the capacity of the local government unit to plan, regulate and guide tourism development so that it will be environmentally and economically viable,” said Carreon.
“The national government believes that eco-tourism plays a very important role in the development of the country,” Carreon said.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) recently released a guideline on ecotourism planning and management.
Administrative Order No. 2013-19 issued on July 1, 2013 recognizes that eco-tourism should contribute to conservation and sustainable use of natural resources in protected areas.
Eco-tourism promotes travel that has low impact to the environment.
It also allows tourists to be educated about the environment they are visiting.
“It is important that we are aware of the costs and we must compare the benefits and the costs,” Carreon said.
Eco-tourism can increase the entry and traffic of people in a protected area and may disrupt the natural environment, increase demand for electric power, potable water, and require better solid waste management.
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