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The future is bright for sustainable tourism

Travel Business Exchange (TBEX) Pilipinas 2018 tackled the issue of sustainable tourism in their annual 2-day seminar this year. With the theme “Creating a Responsible Travel Business Line,” the highlight was the seminar entitled “The World Begs for Sustainability, The World Needs You.”

Seminar speakers were former Secretary of the Department of Tourism (DOT) Dr. Mina Gabor, a staunch advocate of responsible tourism, who spoke about the country’s readiness in addressing the issue. Rodne Galicha, Country Manager of The Climate Reality Project Philippines and world-renowned protector of the earth, shared his views on the importance of sustainable tourism, and Randy Durband, Chief Executive Officer of the Sustainable Tourism Council, discussed how the Philippines can be a global sustainable tourism destination.

Robert Lim Joseph, Chairman of the Network of Independent Travel Agencies and Allied Services (NITAS), said that responsible and sustainable tourism was initially led by the private-sector, but now several communities have developed their own programs to support the call for the protection of the enviroment. He shared his plans for a massive Manila Bay cleanup, with the help of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the water companies in order to get the attention of government. He believes everyone will benefit from the clean-up.

“I want to recommend that the President (Duterte) do something about the informal settlers along the city’s waterways like the rivers, esteros. If this can be done within the next three years developers can build the appropriate infrastructure. There will be rules and regulations so that the garbage will not be thrown in the water. Even the settlers will be taught waste segregation, composting and other activities designed to reduce waste and help save the environment,” he explained, adding that responsible and sustainable tourism cannot be done by a few.

“It took Europe a long time,” he said. “Because of what was done in Boracay, there are now efforts to make waterways and sewage systems cleaner. Now, hotels and resorts have put up their own sewage treatment systems. Everything has to bea concerted effort among stakeholders, especially in the provinces. With sustainable tourism, we can use and re-use. For example in farms animal wastes are reused as fertilizer for organic and chemical-free produce.“

“With responsible tourism, we can implement what we have only dreamt before, and the Manila Bay project will be the starting point. It’s a monumental project, but if we can dream, why don’t we dream big? We don’t just put these dreams on paper; we put them into action,” said Joseph, who is also a diplomat, author, motivational speaker, event organizer, and wine connoisseur. He is the Chairman of the Philippine Wine Merchants and its retail arm, Ralph’s Wine Merchants, and Columbia Transport.

TBEX Pilipinas 2018 also gathered suppliers and local buyers on the second day for a Business-to-Business (B2B) meeting to promote tourism products and packages. It was headed by Angel Ramos Bognot, Project Director and Afro Asian World Events president and also a Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events (MICE) expert.

The buyers included retail and wholesale travel agents while the sellers were local and foreign airlines, hotels, restaurants, resorts and spas, hospitals, and transport operators.

“What we love is that these medium- size companies can easily organize big- volume tour packages that can fill up airline seats quickly. We’re happy that they all came and established networks with buyers as they all geared up for expanding their business horizon and create productive and long-term partnerships,” Angel pointed out.

Through the workshop, companies were made aware of the impact of sustainable tourism on their businesses, while advocating promotion of Philippine culture, heritage, food and destination. “These are all part and parcel of sustainable tourism. We all show our love for the environment and create a future for responsible and sustainable tourism in the country.”

The 2-day event culminated with an exciting Gala Night that included the presentation of the 2018 Travel Girl and announcement of the preliminary plans for TBEX Pilipinas 2019.

For more about Travel Business Exchange Pilipinas 2019, visit Unit 202 Z & H Apartelle, 545 Arquiza corner J. Bocobo Streets, Ermita, Manila or call (+632) 523 7501, (+632) 523 6537, or email

By Rory Visco

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