The ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic might have greatly affected the local tourism industry, but it should not be an excuse for not pursuing sustainability, Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.
“Sustainability has always been at the core of the DOT’s strategies, being part of the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP). The DOT is pushing for tourism businesses with lower resource consumption and carbon emission impact,” Puyat explained during the recent virtual recognition of Women Champions of Sustainability hosted by The Conrad Manila.
Puyat noted that sustainability is critical in establishing the tourism industry of the future, which should be more resilient and “pandemic-proof”.
To achieve its goal of rebuilding a more resilient local tourism industry, the department has turned to promoting sustainable practices in the sector, Puyat said.
These include the ANAHAW Philippine Sustainable Tourism Certification, a national green certification scheme developed in 2018 under the European Union (EU) technical assistance. It seeks to improve the efficiency of tourism establishments in the country.
The tourism chief also mentioned the Sustainable Diner Program. Done in partnership with the World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature Philippines, the program aims “to develop and harness sustainable consumption and production strategies by assisting the food service sector in transitioning into a low carbon industry.”
Another initiative cited by Puyat is DOT’s Save Our Spots (SOS) campaign–an intensive information project that was launched to inspire the public, businesses, and communities to have a long-term view of responsible tourism.
On top of its sustainability efforts, the DOT has also found ways to adapt to the evolving preferences of travelers amid the health crisis.
“The DOT has also made good use of the quarantine time as we recalibrated our tourism products and developed new tourism circuits to adapt to the changing preferences of travelers,” she said.
“While there are still setbacks due to the emergence of new variants of the virus, I am proud of our hospitality industry for staying the course and for bringing out innovative ideas for recovery,” Puyat added.