Marine ecotourism will be at the centerpiece of this year’s three-day 5th World Ecotourism Conference that will be held in the island-province of Cebu February 20-22.
With the theme, “Marine and Coastal Ecotourism: Oceans of Uncertainties, Waves of Opportunities,” the 5th World Ecotourism Conference will discuss the impacts of ecotourism activities linked to the seas such as whale and shark watching, snorkeling, scuba diving, and recreational fishing. The conference will also tackle the socio-economic aspects of the industry such as development of destinations, management of marine ecotourism spots, marketing, and the elimination of poverty through sustainability. The event is co-organized by the Department of Tourism and Discoverymice of Malaysia and endorsed by the United Nations World Tourism Organization.
Representatives from government, industry, civil society, and the academe from all over the world are expected to discuss development and sustainability of industries linked to marine and coastal ecotourism.
“The Philippines is the perfect host to this year’s World Ecotourism Conference. Part of the country’s National Tourism Development Plan’s (NTDP) strategic directions is to develop competitive and sustainable products and destinations which will provide economic opportunities and protect the environment. We want the Philippines to take the lead in involving local communities and government units in conservation work, especially that the livelihood of many Filipinos are linked to the seas. We also welcome the participation of tourism and environment officials from ASEAN to reinforce the region’s common resolve to cooperate on ecotourism development in Southeast Asia,” Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez, Jr. said.
Aside from Cebu, the participants will be toured around the nearby island of Bohol to showcase examples of thriving marine ecotourism spots. Optional tours include whale shark interaction in Oslob, Cebu and a visit to the Puerto Princesa, Underground River in Palawan.
In 2012, the Philippines was also host to the ASEAN Ecotourism Conference where Secretary Jimenez discussed Executive Order No. 111, which details the national ecotourism strategy through sustainable management of destinations, education and awareness, involvement of local communities, and development of tourism products.
“We strive to make our local communities become the managers of their own destinations. Responsible stewardship is key to making our destinations more fun. Our goal is to be one of the successful tourism-powered economies practicing responsible, ethical, and sustainable tourism,” the tourism chief said.