By MONICA ARANETA TIOSEJO
Sustainability begins with community. This was the theme at the co-launch of the Department of Tourism’s (DOT) “Save Our Spots” campaign and BBC Earth’s and El Nido Resorts’ (ENR) “From Hook to Books.”
“From Hooks to Books” started off as ENR’s community project with the fishing village Sitio Kiminawit. In 2018, it won the HICAP Sustainable Award for Positive Community Impact Award. That’s when ENR was approached by BBC Earth to tell their story, and produce BBC Earth’s first Philippine documentary campaign. While only two minutes long, it profoundly captured the 40 years of co-creation, the partnered stewardship of the island resorts, and their neighboring communities.
Both programs emphasize the value of engaging the community in achieving long-term goals on responsible tourism management.
In her welcome message, Sec. Bernadette Romulo-Puyat shared that she wanted the launch of “Save Our Spots” to be in El Nido because even before the DOT pushed for a culture of sustainable tourism, El Nido was already ahead of everybody.
“Tourism is a major way of moving our country forward. This won’t last if we continue to be indifferent to the impact that we make on the environment. With all the information we have available, we are empowered now more than ever to make the right choices. We need the help of each and everyone of you to participate in the Bayanihan movement that we call ‘Save Our Spots’ or S.O.S.,” she said.
The S.O.S. campaign reminds us all to respect tourist destinations wherever you are, and whatever your role in the community is.
She stressed that we are battling many large issues like the loss of traditional culture, over development, improper waste management, and the degradation of our marine environment. The S.O.S. campaign highlights these and shows people how to practice small acts that can help mitigate said issues by working together.
The campaign’s rollout will begin this holiday season. An educational video, which will be shown in tourist touch points such as airports, transport vessels, seaports, and accommodation establishments, will try to educate as many visitors as possible, so together, we can reduce the possible damage caused by the influx.