Sunday, April 14, 2013
The Department of Tourism (DOT) should establish an incentive-based system of best practices for ecotourism development among the country’s resorts and ecotourism destinations to make their service globally competitive and at the same time environment-friendly.
The call was made by Sen. Loren Legarda after El Nido Resorts (ENR), a cluster of four eco-resorts in Bacuit Bay in Palawan, won the Tourism for Tomorrow Award (TTA) during the recent 13th annual World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit held in Abu Dhabi. It was recognized for best practices in sustainable tourism in four categories—Destination Stewardship Award, Conservation Award, Community Benefit Award and the Global Tourism Business Award.
“I laud El Nido for this achievement, for showing the whole world that it can engage in development while protecting the country's biodiversity and natural wonders,” Legarda, a leading environmentalist, said.
She said El Nido’s success could be emulated elsewhere in the country with the DOT establishing a system of best practices so that resorts and other ecotourism destinations could undertake world-class development without destroying their areas’ natural wonders.
Legarda said there must be incentives for resorts and other tourist destinations which have active plans to maintain and sustain the environmental state in their jurisdictions, just like what the late DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo did for local government units (LGUs) with good housekeeping plans.
She said the incentives, to be determined and drawn up by the DOT and other appropriate government agencies, would be the inducement to motivate these resorts and other ecotourism destinations to embark on environment-friendly development plans and practices.
Legarda said local resorts and tourist spots can offer outdoor activities, adventure and nature-related attractions provided that the destinations display friendliness to the environment.
Earlier, Legarda has hailed the government’s plan to boost ecotourism through a partnership project between the DOT and Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
She said the Philippines has already been hailed as the World’s Center of Marine Biodiversity – the epicentre of biodiversity and evolution. However, the country is also one of the world’s top biodiversity hotspots, with a large number of species either endangered or threatened of extinction.
“It is sad to note that the unique biodiversity that our country is greatly blessed with is deeply threatened by the irresponsible acts of man. But I am hopeful that this partnership project between the DENR and DOT will promote the natural attractions in our country while ensuring environmental conservation and sustainable development,” Legarda added.
Sen. Loren Legarda today in Isabela Province renewed her call for spurring national growth by enlarging the agricultural and micro-enterprise base in the countryside through a more effective implementation of the Agri-Agra Reform Credit Act, along with the Magna Carta for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) and the Barangay Kabuhayan Act.
In her visit to the primarily agricultural province of Isabela, Legarda saw a huge potential in income creation as the country's top producer of corn in 2012.
“The Agri Agra Law which I principally authored could be more aggressively implemented and bolstered by a sustained awareness campaign among our farmers, the law's intended beneficiaries," Legarda said.
Legarda said the Agri-Agra Reform Credit Act requires banks to allocate 25 percent of their loanable funds to the agriculture sector to finance the acquisition of work animals, farm equipment or machinery, seeds, fertilizers, livestock, feeds or other similar items for farm production.
Legarda said the law would ensure that there is “bibingka economics” or economic growth from the grassroots.
“Ibig sabihin mula sa ilalim ang paglago, na gaya ng pagluto ng bibingka, may apoy sa ilalim. Kailangan ang paglago ng kabuhayan, manggaling sa ilalim,” she stressed, referring to former President Fidel V. Ramos’s symbolism of the “bibingka” as the best path towards progress.
Legarda said the MSME law was enacted to help build up micro, small and medium enterprises nationwide and increase the incomes of underprivileged families, especially those in the provinces.
The law helps facilitate the access of micro, small and medium enterprises to sources of funds, requiring lending institutions to set aside for them at least 8 percent of their loan portfolio.
Micro and small enterprises availing of financing programs and incentives are also not required to undergo burdensome collateral requirements.
On the other hand, the Barangay Kabuhayan Law seeks to empower would-be micro entrepreneurs through skills trainings offered by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in 4th, 5th and 6th class municipalities.
A report from the Department of Trade and Industry shows that programs for MSMEs have generated a total employment of over 920,000 from July 2011 to June 2012 alone. New MSMEs assisted or created reached over 180,000. About 76,000 MSMEs expanded their operatioms.
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