TOWARDS SUSTAINABLE TOURISM

Boracay Caticlan Port

The United Nations World Tourism Organization has declared 2017 as the International Year for Sustainable Tourism for Development.

For Boracay that received over 1.7 million tourists last year, tourism development is a continuing process. Tourism, like every industry, however needs sustainable planning and management to survive as a whole for it produces significant impacts on the environment, society and the economy.

This year, the Aklan Provincial Government is targeting at least two million tourists for Boracay.

The island will host at least 15 international cruise lines this 2017. It will also play host to ministerial meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit starting this February. And last month, Boracay was even one of the featured destinations during the Miss Universe competition. Indeed, this small island plays a crucial part in Philippine tourism. But is Boracay moving towards sustainability?

According to the World Tourism Organization, sustainable tourism development requires the informed participation of all relevant stakeholders and a strong political leadership. It must be a tourism that enhances the well-being of host communities while ensuring meaningful experience to the tourists. It should maintain a high level of tourist satisfaction while generating greater economic benefits for local people. Achieving sustainable tourism, one would say, still remains a challenge for Boracay.

However, we must understand that sustainable tourism is not just a responsibility of one. It is the responsibility of everyone.

Sustainable tourism is a continuous process that requires constant monitoring of tourism impacts and actions from the government, including the private sector, the local community, and the tourists, as well.

By KAREN BERMEJO

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