Sustainable Tourism & Events, Green Hotels,
The Clean Blue Asia Pacific
Green growth, global climate change solutions, the grass roots way

Sustainable Ethos for Negros Occidental

Last October, while working on The Boracay & Coron Initiatives I took a side trip to my home province sugar land Negros Occidental in southern Philippines. Upon request of Tita Sonia Sarrosa, owner of 2010 ASEAN Green Hotel Awardee Nature’s Village Resort, I did a stopover to give a talk and presentation on Conservation, Social Responsibility and Sustainable Tourism. It’s been exactly ten years since my last visit to home city, also as Guest Speaker during First Tourism Summit then organized by the province with the Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce. After a 55-minute ride from Manila, I was elated to glimpse the lush green fields from the plane window. I was all the more happy to see on the ride from Silay-Bacolod Airport to the resort, that in fact, Negros still remains conserved and to know that it became the first organic province and aims to be the organic bowl of Asia.

Fortunately, in spite of the flight delay which made me lose practically most of my first day, with the talk originally scheduled in the morning, I was able to share my experiences and knowledge on how tourism and hospitality should be managed in a sustainable way. A select group of Provincial officials and private tourism stakeholders who had been waiting for me earlier were patient enough to return in the afternoon to listen to my presentation, gleaned from my first hand experience with Inkaterra, Peru’s Eco pioneer and Conservation Leader since 1975. I was thrilled to learn that Negros Occidental has already incorporated Sustainable Development in their NEGROS FIRST agenda and is already gearing to take on the task of implementing sustainable standards in all its business and industrial sectors, especially in Tourism. That night, I attended a get-together of the ONOPRA, Negros Organic Producers and Retailers Association who honored their visiting Miss Earth beauties in an all-organic buffet dinner.

The next day, we took off for Sagay City, south of the province, home of Museo sang Bata Sa Negros (Children’s Interactive Marine Museum). The Museum size, design and exhibits were originally intended for children but it is an attraction for visitors of all ages, too. Its focus is to educate mainly children on Coastal Marine resources especially of nearby Carbin Reef Marine Reserve. However the Museum also serves as a Welcome Center for all guests, offering a brief intro about Sagay’s marine biodiversity, conservation programs and a small hall dedicated to Sagay’s son, the late Governor Alfredo Maranon. Several children act as guides in each mini-exhibit and their spiels are heartwarming and interesting not only for kids but also for adults.

Just a quick motor boat ride from the pier next to the Museum, we visited Carbin Reef Sandbar, the visitors’ base to the 200 hectare Marine Sanctuary. The tongue shaped white sand bar is open for day visitors on a limited capacity for swimming, snorkeling or scuba diving. From Carbin Reef, we took a brief ride to Barangay Vito, jump off point to Molocaboc Island. We were graciously welcomed by the Barangay Captain and residents who offered us an exquisite lunch of native seafood, proudly produced by the island. Molocaboc has no fresh water resource, thus all residents make use of large earthen jars for rain water catchment to have water supply. Japanese NGO’s visit the island yearly to do their outreach programs to include mangrove reforestation and sea ranching (a sustainable way of aquaculture & fishing). Soon it was time to leave Sagay and just before I left Bacolod, we took a detour to see the farm of college-friend, Jojo Bonnin in Barangay Alangilan, a mini green-hideaway, just 15 minutes from the city.

From this visit, I returned again to my home town and started to work on a new endeavor, The Negros Initiative for the provincial Governor, where I spent my December holidays at Negros’ remarkable key and potential sustainable tourism and green attractions: Eco Agri Foundation Sustainable Farm Showcase, Don Salvador Benedicto, and Danjugan Island Marine Reserve & Wildlife Sanctuary.

Green Yuletide Guide
A Green Yuletide Guide

For a non-Christian country, Japan celebrates Christmas to the max, but not for traditional or religious reasons. Not to mention that most Christmas trees and decor are depressing blue color lights! Singapore inaugurated the Orchard Christmas light up with no less than their President, a national event to herald shopping hoarders. Ti’s the season of extreme enterprise just like everywhere in the globe. In the Philippines, they put up the Yuletide trimmings as early as September, to bring the holiday cheers early amidst typhoon time. It’s simply a silly spell of trash and bash for profitable purposes. So before your Christmas becomes just a blur of stress and duress, get guided by these holiday eco ethos and lighten your impact to the environment.

1. Buy green gifts. Consider eco-friendly and socially-conscious products and think about impact and environment when buying gifts. Remember the environmental effort and message gives more meaning, so look for a green approach for each gift: i.e. organic products, reusable, recyclable and really useful.

2. Reuse, reduce & recycle. Be creative in practicing these principles: reuse gift wrappers, reduce waste, recycle unused gift items and give them off. These 3Rs in gift giving is not only economical but less stressful!

3. Eco shopping bags. Bring your reusable shopping bags when heading out to your gift buying spree this season and avoid plastic bags abound.

4. Shop online. Save fuel and energy. Instead of charging out in traffic and lining up kilometric queues in stores, shop online instead! Items purchased online can be delivered straight to your recipient, so it can also cut down effort in personal delivery and again, fuel in driving around to give those gifts!

5. Cool gift certificates. Instead of buying ordinary gifts, buy something special like a concert ticket, spa certificate, book club or gym trial and the like. Your friend will think of you as a cool and considerate giver.

6. Gift of charity. As a great alternative to buying another picture frame, mug or socks for the person who may not need more of the same, give them the gift of charity, a donation to an environmental project or to any other organization for the needy. Donate to these charities or purchase gift cards in their name- a tree seedling for reforestation, donation for a wheelchair, clothes or books for orphans, etc. There are so many humanitarian and environmental organizations in need of support where you can contribute, in the name of a friend.

7. Christmas cards from recycled paper. Thousands of cards each year are bought every yuletide season. Consider the alternative E-greeting card and if you must, buy Christmas cards from recycled paper. Think Amazon and deforestation before you buy that Christmas card.

8. Biodegradable wrappers and bows. Use recycled paper and natural materials instead of plastic or metallic wrappers and bows. Needless to say, they’re easier to dispose and less harmful to the environment. These calls again for creativity: reuse materials, or make the wrapping part of the gift, such as scarves, baskets and or reusable decorative boxes.

9. Re-chargeable batteries. When buying battery operated toys, encourage use of re-chargeable batteries; educate children as early as tots about the proper use of recharging – they’re not only eco friendly but also economical.

11. Live instead of plastic Xmas tree. Purchase a live tree to use as Christmas tree and it doesn’t have to be a traditional fir. Santa will not scold you if you use other foliage as Christmas tree as you can re-plant them in your yard after the holidays. Besides, it serves a natural indoor air purifier. And oh, use natural décor non-plastic, non-hazardous materials and low consumption lights.

12. Avoid wasteful consumption. Christmas is a garbage fest. Before the gift opening and feasting begins, set up your garbage disposals accordingly - for cans, bottles, paper etc. Again, practice the pre- and post party 3Rs.

Christmas has almost lost its essence due to over- commercialization and excessive hype. Make your Yuletide more meaningful and less stressful. Think outside the gift box a little and you can have greener Holidays that may benefit the environment and humanity.

Show your care and share your green holiday season tips, please add them to the comments section!

Greening Your Events
Sustainable Events Management with CSR

Concerts, sporting events, meetings, conventions and big outdoor gatherings are an essential part of community life that has a positive effect on society. Unfortunately they can have negative impacts on the environment. Events generate garbage, use electricity and require a lot of materials to run them, along with plenty of travel by the audience and/or participants that leave carbon footprints.

Sustainable Events Management. Any event can be managed sustainably, whether small or large, a conference or caucus, a onetime concert or something that is ongoing, like a series of spectator sports – the concept of minimizing impacts of purchasing, energy production, transport, waste and sanitation can be applied in almost any situation. A sustainably managed live event seeks to minimize its resource use and all the potentially negative impacts on the environment.

“Greening” an event or meeting involves all aspects of the planning process, a detailed collaboration of everyone involved, from producer to supplier, from venue to viewers. By greening your event, you are not only having a positive impact on the environment by being an industry leader but you are educating your audience, leaving a legacy in the community and its future generations.

Organizers, producers, sponsors, visitors and attendees alike must start to practice Sustainable Events in order to satisfy the needs of attendees and host community alike, while protecting and improving future opportunities. Simply minimize and reduce the environmental cost of your events and embed the concepts of sustainability into your purchasing and operational decisions. Educate all participants to avoid careless and negligent behavior from those who leave their trash, plastics and heavy impact to the already fragile environment due to global climate change.

Purchasing. When purchasing, buy sustainably. Purchase from vendors that have sustainable practices and source products made from eco friendly materials. Buy local. Purchase from local vendors and buy products manufactured within the province or region. This is one best practice in corporate social responsibility.

Waste management. Work towards zero waste. Implement practices that reduce the total waste going to landfill. Recycle. Provide recycling bins at the event. Reduce waste - use re-usable food service items. Avoid the use of disposables (plates, cups and cutlery etc).

Reduce or limit paper communications. When promoting the event, use recycled paper, or go paperless where possible. Use reusable signs and banners; use electronic media at the event.

Re-think giveaways – souvenirs, wearables and gifts (SWAG)
If using giveaways make them functional and environmentally friendly.

Showcase green living options - consider an Eco Centre. Communicate the actions taken to green the event in all communications.

Energy Management. Use sustainable energy. Use ecological alternatives to diesel- and gasoline/petrol-powered generators. Reduce power consumption. Adopt procedures to reduce the total energy consumed by the event.

Water Management. Conserve water by implementing water saving and conservation techniques at the event.

Encourage Sustainable Transport. Buy products made locally, and use local contractors, vendors & artists to reduce the carbon emissions in transport.

Form a green team. Green teams are starting to emerge as an exciting part of green events, both because there is a lot of community interest in green issues and because the teams are very effective.

Communicate and share your green success stories. Educate your guests and stakeholders about your environmental commitment and encourage them to green their own events, meetings, conferences and other business practices.

Lean and green. Even in an economic crisis, green practices and long-term sustainability goals should not take a backseat to the bottom line. Incorporating green and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) practices into events and meetings can be beneficial —not only to establish their companies as good corporate citizens, but to actually save money!

These are just some of the ways to green your events. There are many other innovative tools and media you can use. Do you know if your event is helping or hurting the environment? Learn ways to "green" your next event with a Sustainable Events Management with CSR Workshop in your next big happening!

-Sourced from Live Earth Green Event Guidelines and Calgary City Green Event Essentials.

Sustainable Tourism
What in the (Third) World is Sustainable Tourism?

Since the mid 90’s we have heard of the term “Sustainable Tourism” and thought of it vaguely as something good for the planet and for the future of tourism but most of us do not really know what it is and its value.

Sustainable is Explainable. Here, we will try to explain what is meant by Sustainable Tourism according to the World Tourism Organization (WTO). Sustainable Tourism refers to the environmental, economic and sociocultural aspects of tourism development with a suitable balance established among these three vital elements to guarantee its long-term sustainability. In ecology the word describes how biological systems remain diverse and productive over time. For humanity, it is the continuing maintenance of its well-being, as it depends on the natural resources’ benefits and its responsible use.

In the Philippines, the 7107 islands archipelago is blessed with a wealth of natural resources: verdant tropical forest and a stunning range of marine biodiversity, even declared in one region as a Natural World Heritage site. However through the years, ignorance, recklessness, lack of education or awareness, poverty, deforestation and destruction of marine eco systems has damaged some of the islands’ beauty and assets, the very same source that provide livelihood for millions of citizens.

Peru, is a country made up of three vast and distinct geographical zones, the 2,414 kilometers of the Pacific coast, featuring deserts, fertile valleys, savannas and spectacular surf beaches: the majestic peaks of the Andes mountains dominated by Huascaran at 6,768 meters (22,204 feet) above sea level and the Amazon jungle, vast region of tropical vegetation in the Amazon River Basin, home to Peru's largest natural reserves. The combination of tropical latitude, mountain ranges, topography variations and two ocean currents (Humboldt and El Niño) gives Peru a large diversity of climates.

Tourists are invading beaches, natural parks, historical places and marine protected areas doing irreversible damage. Un-sustainable tourism has destroyed many destinations with pollution, waste, and overconsumption of water and electricity.

Local cultures, values and traditions are affected adversely from the profusion of massive expansion without any regard for eco balance. One major loss is authenticity, a major pillar in the principle of sustainable tourism, which should maintain the geographical character of a place, its environment, heritage, aesthetics, culture and well-being of its residents. Imagine a tropical island resort spotted with stark concrete and glass buildings sans coconut trees! Gross, right?

Sustainable is Attainable. According to the WTO guidelines, “Sustainable tourism development requires the informed participation of all relevant stakeholders, as well as strong political leadership to ensure wide participation and consensus building.” To achieve Sustainable Tourism, all sectors have to follow a continuous process which requires constant monitoring of impacts and implement the necessary preventive and/or corrective measures at all times.

In summary WTO’s Sustainable Tourism is:
• Making optimal use of environmental resources that form a key element in tourism development, maintaining essential ecological processes and helping to conserve natural heritage and biodiversity.

• Respecting the sociocultural authenticity of host communities, conserving their built and living cultural heritage and traditional values, and contributing to inter-cultural understanding and tolerance.

• Ensuring viable, long-term economic operations, providing equal socio-economic benefits to all stakeholders, including stable employment, income-earning opportunities and social services to host communities and contributing to poverty alleviation.

Sustainable tourism should not only satisfy the travelers’ satisfaction of pleasure and relaxation but also ensure a meaningful experience that raises their awareness about preserving and conserving nature and culture while contributing to the local community as a lasting legacy.