A HOUSE panel has approved a measure that seeks to protect tourist destinations in the country from environmental issues.
The House Committee on Tourism, chaired by Leyte Rep.Lucy Gomez, underscored the need to pass House Bill 7229 or the “Philippine Sustainable Tourism Act.”
This bill intends to address the Filipino people’s clamor for resolution and action, especially on issues of environmental degradation, public health and intractable tourism business growth in Boracay.
President Rodrigo Duterte has called Boracay island a cesspool the reason why it will be closed soon.
Gomez said sustainable tourism is no longer a choice but has become the new norm.
“The Philippine Sustainable Tourism Act will offer a paradigm shift from our old ways of doing business in the tourism industry,” Gomez said.
Gomez said that sustainable tourism concerns all Filipinos and all tourist destinations.
“Therefore, we must all band together to protect the industry that has helped lift our country’s GDP (gross domestic product) growth,” she said.
Gomez added this largely indicates taking care of the natural resources that are the very capital of the tourism industry.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization (WTO) defines sustainable tourism as: “Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities”
The bill states that the responsibility of achieving and maintaining “Sustainable Tourism” shall be given to qualified representatives of all relevant stakeholders of the tourism industry.
The measure further states an assembly of such stakeholder representation shall be immediately convened and called the “Philippine Sustainable Tourism Council”.
The House Committee on Tourism shall be the convenor and administrator of this council.
Among the tasks of the Philippine Sustainable Tourism Council are to establish a unified definition of “Sustainable Tourism”, establish goals to achieve and maintain “Sustainable Tourism” and integrate all existing laws pertaining to the Tourism Industry in various areas that influence the sustainability of the industry.