Eco-tourism will boost ailing sector, say experts - GulfToday

Eco-tourism will boost ailing sector, say experts


Photo has been used for illustrative purposes.

Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter

Domestic and eco-tourism like educational health-filled farm visits will help revive an industry blown up by the Novel Coronavirus (COVID19) pandemic due to worldwide lockdowns as well as travel limitations and restrictions.

Meanwhile, in the recent Dubai webinar on “Over Exposure to Screening,” Hayati Health Centre clinical director Dr Mona Ibrahim Youssri, psychiatrist-psychotherapist-family counselor emphasized to parents and older family members that children’s addiction to the screens, harmful to their development as a social being, would be solved if families learn to spend time together with nature because nature heals.

The push for domestic/eco-tourism was from United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO)-Tourism Market Intelligence and Competitiveness Chief Sandra Carvao, Global Sustainable Tourism Council chief executive officer Randy Durband, the Philippines’s Department of Tourism (DoT)-Tourism Development Planning assistant secretary Roberto Alabado III, Philippine Farm Tourism Development Association president Josephine Costales, and University of the Philippines-Asian Institute of Tourism (UP-AIT) Professor Richard Philip Gonzalo from “The Future of Tourism in Time of COVID19” webinar recently hosted by the UP (Diliman Campus, Quezon City)-CIFAL Philippines (of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research that promotes and supports the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals-SDGs).

According to Carvao, UNWTO June 2020 data had demonstrated that the pandemic would cause the global tourism industry to recover in 21 months compared to the recovery period recorded at 11 months as a result of the 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome of 2003 and localized in North America and Asia, the 14 months recovery as an aftermath of the Sept. 11 tragedy, and the 19 months of the 2008-2009 international economic debacle.

Carvao further claimed that 100 to 120 million direct tourism jobs had been projected to be at risk across the world. So far, 850 million to 1.1 billion international tourism arrivals had been lost which had led to $910 billion to $1.2 trillion loss from international tourism receipts or spend which could have been used by countries as export revenues.

UP-CIFAL Philippines director Edna Estefania Co said the webinar was organised “to explore possible solutions towards the responsible recovery of the (tourism) industry and the sustainability of tourism in line with the UN SDGs of promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all; ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns; and conserving and sustainable use of the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development.

All speakers said the way to move now is to provide all the necessary financial and logistical support for domestic tourism that lies on the empowerment of all local government units and the community in accordance to a recent UP-AIT research study since it is the locals who are the backbone of any village, town and city in the world. It is the locals who exactly know their heritage and their place, the existing and possible tourism destinations.

Alabado said that according to pre-COVID19 data of the Philippines’s DoT, over 110 million Philippine residents toured around the 7,107 archipelago in 2019 up from 5.4 million in 2018 and who spent Php4 trillion (Dhs301,997,648,000.00) which pumped the government’s coffers. He shared a DoT/UP-AIT research study revealing that among 12,732 respondents from the 81 Philippine provinces, 77 percent (9,804) are willing to travel around the country even without a COVID19 vaccine, 48 per cent (6,111) are willing to travel within the country within the next six months, and 96 per cent (12,223) want that all safety and hygiene protocols including contactless transactions to be fully implemented. Hence, all tourism stakeholders must work together on these.

Saying that business-wise, tourism industry players may have already sunk or coping to stay afloat, Durband seconded the Philippines’s DoT/UP-AIT research: “We love to travel. We plan our travels. We love to talk about our travels.”

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