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Masaru Takayama: A Stronger Asian Ecotourism Network for 2018

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Masaru Takayama, Chair, AEN

Masaru Takayama, Chair and Founder of the Asian Ecotourism Network, speaks to Gaia Discovery’s Mallika Naguran of his plans for 2018 and in shaping a stronger association that promotes responsible tourism in Asia. 

The Asian Ecotourism Network was formed in June 2015 out of exceptional circumstances. At that time, the original board members of The International Ecotourism Society or TIES had resigned from it and formed the Global Ecotourism Network (GEN) instead. Four GEN board members residing in Asia including Masaru Takayama went on to form the regional Asian Ecotourism Network, or AEN.

Read more.

By Mallika Naguran, Publisher and Managing Editor, Gaia Discovery and Gaia Guide


Credit: Eco Warrior Princess


As environmental awareness grows, so does the number of phrases used to describe ‘green’ consumer choices. With everything from ‘biodegradable’ to ‘biodynamic’, the sheer amount of jargon can get more than a little confusing.

This is particularly true of the travel industry, where ‘ecotourism’ and ‘sustainable tourism’ are often used interchangeably. But is this accurate?


Travel is a fairly big deal. Billions of people travel internationally every year, and the industry is only predicted to grow in years to come. What’s encouraging is to see that as we become increasingly environmentally conscious, we’re moving towards a global landscape where more and more people make green travel choices. But with so many different environmentally friendly travel options available, and a lot of terminology to sift through, things can get a little muddled.


Read the full article to learn about the difference between Ecotourism and Sustainable Travel. 


By James Hale for Eco Warrior Princess. 


by Boboi Costas, Community Organiser, Bojo Aloguinsan Ecotourism Association (BAETAS); Founder, Grassroots Travel

Disclaimer: The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author(s) and those providing comments on these blogs are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or positions of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) or any employee thereof. We make no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability or validity of any information presented by individual authors and/or commenters on our blogs and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries or damages arising from its display or use.


by Boboi Costas, Community Organiser, Bojo Aloguinsan Ecotourism Association (BAETAS); Founder, Grassroots Travel

by Boboi Costas, Community Organiser, Bojo Aloguinsan Ecotourism Association (BAETAS); Founder, Grassroots Travel

There they were, debating deep into the night whether to buy that old village house, or not. On a night like this, the discussion sometimes turns into a lively argument, punctuated by the sound of nocturnal bird calls. A flash of lightning occasionally illuminates the mangrove canopy, followed by a distant roll of thunder on the horizon. It’s the beginning of monsoon. Finally, a decision was reached: they have to acquire that house, or it will fall into the hands of antique dealers in the city.

In 2009 I arrived in the river village of Bojo, Aloguinsan in the central Philippine island of Cebu. Its waterway snaked through a thin deforested mangrove forest, its water almost dark with algae and scum from the water buffalos the locals used to bring down into the river to bathe after a day’s toil in the farms, and from the waste dumped into the water. The river, fed by almost a hundred springs was an oasis where the whole community turned up to wash their clothes especially on weekends. Fishing devices for catching fries littered the water. It was dirty.

But it seemed the locals had the best of both worlds from farming and fishing. While waiting for the harvest season which happens twice a year, the men would venture out daily to the sea to fish (sometimes with dynamite) for a living. The women took care of the kids and wove grasses into mats to augment the family’s income. It seemed like all was well with the world.

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Give Consideration to our Furry Friends

Categories: Green Tips
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It’s a big question, and a difficult one to answer. How beneficial is human-wildlife interaction, and how much harm might it cause?
Often wildlife activities or viewings are advertised as ‘eco-friendly’ and supportive of wildlife because part of the price or additional encouraged donations goes to the conservation of the animals. Furthermore, they are seen in their ‘natural’ habitats and are in a protected, comfortable environment.
But critics have commented recently that even if the animals are not obviously enduring harm, the long-term effects may not be so sustainable. Of course, when animals are around humans habitually, their reactions and behaviours change. They may not flee from predators or poachers as they naturally would.
On your next eco-tourism outing, you might consider going to an animal sanctuary for rescued animals that cannot be returned to the wild, or view animal behaviour from a distance that doesn’t allow interactions between you and that particular species. As exciting as it may be to have a macaque on your shoulder – it may also contribute to the poaching and trade of these beautiful animals.


Best Community Based Tourism Initiative

Bojo AloguinsanBojo Aloguinsan Ecotourism Association (BAETAS) was formally registered with the Department of Labor and Employment in October 2009, and with the Bureau of Internal Revenue the following year. The project was initiated by the local government of the municipality of Aloguinsan, a town located 73 kilometers midwest of Cebu City on the island of Cebu in central Philippines. The town is classified as a 4th class municipality with a population of 26,000 and a land area of 7,421 hectares. The village of Bojo is a fishing village of about 1,600 residents living in an area of about 355 hectares. Most of the residents earn from fishing, farming and working as laborers in the city. The 1.3 kilometer Bojo River flows through this village and empties into the Tanon Strait, the biggest marine protected area in the Philippines, and home to 14 species of dolphins.

Community organizing work began in the first quarter of 2009. The association had 52 member families with 75% of them having finished elementary education. More than half of the members are fishermen and housewives and earning US$70 a month. Sixty-five percent have lived in the village since birth.

BAETAS’ mission is to protect Bojo river and the marine resources of Tanon Strait, and attract tourists and earn supplemental income. Its general strategy is community-driven environmental management and the approach is ecotourism revenue as a strong incentive to protect the environment. By the middle of 2009, the Bojo River Eco-Cultural Tour was launched. After fine-tuning the product for a year, it began full swing in 2010.

To date, it has received almost 38,000 satisfied tourists who have joined the tour bringing memorable and meaningful experiences with them after. Tours have generated a total receipt of 16 million pesos with the 2.6 million pesos turned over to the local government. People hail it as a trailblazing initiative in Philippine community-based ecotourism where a local community association gives financial endowment to a municipal government from its tourism activities! The Department of Environment and Natural Resource, Integrated Coastal Resource Management Project and the Asian Development Bank awarded BAETAS the Inang Kalikasan Award for Best in Ecotourism Leadership in 2013.



The Downside of Ecotourism

November 05, 2015 – Ecotourism is a fast growing sector of the tourism industry that involves visiting natural places to observe wildlife while conserving it. This form of tourism sees money raised directly invested into the protection of local ecosystems. Annisa Putois Read more.


November 05 2015 – The incomparable Transcaucasian Trail, a hiking route across the Caucasus Mountains from the Black Sea to the Caspian, was launched on Responsible Travel Day of the World Travel Market. Katie Ruth Davies Read more.


November 2015 – Can the travel industry have an impact on saving Asia Pacific’s shark population from extinction? Dr. Andy Cornish, shark & ray initiative leader at WWF International, draws the connection between tourism and marine conservation. PATA Conversations Read more.

November 02 2015 – What can one do, except feel powerless and fume and wonder what is wrong with some people? And find another dentist besides Walter Palmer in Minneapolis? Palmer, of course, wounded Cecil, leaving him to suffer in death throes for 40 hours before killing him with a rifle shot. Michael Markarian Read more.

November 03 2015 – “Hold it.” Hasri’s upheld hand tells us. He takes two soundless steps on the dried leaves of the lowland Borneo rainforest and listens. We pause for the strange sound to repeat itself among the jungle cicadas and morning calls of birds. David McGuire Read more.