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Conference promotes sustainable tourism among young travelers

The wonders of traveling are figuratively a click away for today’s youth. It is more apparent that the millennials, with their spending capability and insatiable thirst for exploring and sharing their experiences, are in the position to redefine the face of tourism as we knew it.

Social media abounds with proof. Whether it is about scaling a mountain or diving under the sea, today’s travelers are more than willing to tell others about their memories. Many profiles show a glimpse of travel stories captured in breathtaking photos and cool travel videos.

But traveling is not just about adventure and pampering. Nowadays, the adventure of a lifetime comes with soul searching and giving back components. Putting meaning to their globetrotting, young explorers go for authentic experiences, which explain the surge of homestay, “voluntourism” or volunteering for tourism efforts, and interaction with locals. By INQ POP. Read the original article here.


Outrage over Miss Universe candidates swimming with endangered whale sharks

Categories: Asia, Planet, Recommended Reading, Sea, Wildlife
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The Philippines' bet for the Miss Universe pageant, Maxine Medina, and other candidates swam near the whale sharks. PHOTO: courtesy of Sergei Tokmakov (via CNN Philippines on Twitter)

The Philippines’ bet for the Miss Universe pageant, Maxine Medina, and other candidates swam near the whale sharks. PHOTO: courtesy of Sergei Tokmakov (via CNN Philippines on Twitter)

LOOK: Miss Universe candidates go whale watching in Oslob, Cebu

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Controversy shrouded the visit of the 12 Miss Universe 2016 candidates to Oslob, Cebu on Tuesday.

One of their activities was to watch the endangered whale sharks or butanding. Miss Universe-Philippines Maxine Medina was also photographed swimming with a whale shark.

Environmentalists and past beauty queens expressed their outrage, saying the Miss Universe pageant organizers made an unethical choice of having the contestants swim with whale sharks.

The said tourist attraction has been controversial due to the negative impact on the animals caused by human interaction. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) listed the butanding as an endangered species. It reported last July that the “growing human pressure” on whale sharks are putting the species at an increasing risk of extinction.

CNN Philippines correspondent Isabella Montano contributed to this report. Read more.


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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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.



Best Branded Accommodation – 2015 InSPIRE Awards

El Nido, PhilippinesTen Knots Development Corporation owns and operates the four El Nido Resorts in Northern Palawan, named after the island where they are found: Miniloc, Lagen, Pangulasian in the Municipality of El Nido, and Apulit in the Municipality of Taytay. Bounded by the South China Sea in the west and the Sulu Sea in the east, El Nido and Taytay are small archipelagos in themselves, with close to 100 islands between them. Both Municipalities are areas of high biodiversity such that the Philippine Government was compelled to declare the whole of El Nido and portions of Taytay a Managed-Resource Protected Area in 1998.

In 1982, the first El Nido Resort opened as a dive camp with 16 rooms at Miniloc Island. Over a period of 30 years, it grew from one resort to four, with each resort having no more than 51 rooms. More importantly, the Company has earned its place in history as having put El Nido in the tourism map and, in spite of changes in ownership over the years, has forged a reputation of being at the forefront of responsible tourism in the entire country and beyond. Today, it is a wholly owned subsidiary of Ayala Hotels and Resorts Corporation (AHRC). AHRC belongs to the Ayala Group of Companies, one of the largest and oldest conglomerates in the Philippines that has a growing portfolio in the ASEAN region.

Acquired by Ayala in 2010, El Nido Resorts is the first in the conglomerates’ brands that specializes in island resorts. Well-known for good corporate governance and stability, the Ayala brand provides El Nido Resorts a stronger platform on which it could deliver its offerings of sustainable tourism to an even larger international and diverse audience.

El Nido Resorts have been operating within a quadruple bottom line framework of financial growth, environmental stewardship, community engagement, and organizational development. We pioneered green technologies in island resorts, such as sewage treatment plants, desalination plants, nature farming, ecological solid waste management, among others. Hosts to fragile ecosystems, these small islands where our resorts operate cannot be experimented with, and so anything that is introduced should have as minimal ecological footprint as possible.


For more information: El Nido Resorts website

Science-based ecotourism

30 April 2015 – Environmental protection can also be good for business. Here’s why the Philippines should follow Malaysia’s example and take advantage of a booming birdwatching industry to give tourism and eco-awareness a much-needed shot in the arm. Mads Bajarias. Read more.



With over 400 species of sharks inhabiting almost every aquatic ecosystem, divers and wildlife enthusiast are enjoying and paying good money to view sharks in their natural habitats. Operations to take tourists to view, dive or snorkel with sharks and rays are located across the globe.

A recent study found that shark tourism companies operate in 83 locations in 29 countries (Gallagher and Hammerschlag 2011).  Divers are very interested in seeing sharks alive and healthy in the ocean and are willing to pay a lot to see them (White 2008). In Fiji, Vianna et al. (2011) estimated that 78% of all divers visiting the country in 2010 engaged in shark-diving activities. By ‘Shark Savers’. Read more.