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SOS campaign launched for sustainable tourism

Ehda M. Dagooc (The Freeman) | The Philippine Star | December 10, 2019

CEBU, Philippines — Putting tourism sustainability thrust into action, the Department of Tourism (DOT) called on tourism stakeholders to support the Save Our Spots (SOS) movement.

DOT Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr.  made this call as the country is serious in taking care of its tourism wealth, avoiding another Boracay-closure incident.

“We need the help of each and every one of you to participate in this bayanihan movement Save Our Spots (SOS). The SOS campaign reminds us all to respect our tourism destinations wherever you are and whatever your role in the community is,” Bengzon called the attention of tourism stakeholders around the country.

Bengzon said this as the Philippines received 6.1 million foreign visitors in January to September, bringing closer to achieving the department’s target of 8.2 million foreign visitors by the end of 2019.

He said 5.4 million Filipinos are directly employed in tourism sectors such as transport, accommodation, food and beverage, among others. They make up about 13 percent of total employment in the country.

“These jobs and businesses indicate that the Philippines has so much more to offer and that tourism is a major way to move our country forward. However, this spectacular view that we are enjoying now won’t last if we continue to be indifferent to the impact that we make on the environment,” he added.

Bengzon said the SOS campaign is the bayanihan project of the tourism industry.

“Together as a nation, we can ensure that our seas remain clean and thriving with marine life, our mountains and forests stay green and flourishing, and our cultural heritage continue to live on,” Bengzon quoted DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.

A policy brief released during the Arangkada Philippines Forum 2019 underscored the need to respect the environment of the country’s tourist destinations from the negative impact of more tourists than they are equipped to handle.

To achieve a progressive tourism industry, policy makers and program implementers are encouraged to harmonize and work within the various ecosystems prevailing at each destination, including urbanization, overbuilding, and crowding out at destinations, greater use of renewable energy, and development of intelligent land use.