Filipino millennials are leading national efforts to boost sustainable tourism

Filipino millennials are leading national efforts to boost sustainable tourism

Credit: Keneth Ofrecio/GYV

Credit: Keneth Ofrecio/GYV

Filipino millennials (or fillennials) are full of optimism and constantly looking for new, bold ideas — a few of the many traits that help build up their nation. Another fillennial strength: political engagement. Millennials speak more openly about public issues and are more actively involved in politics than previous generations.

Recently, fillennials led a series of demonstrations because former dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos was to be buried at the Heroes Cemetery, officially known as Libingan ng mga Bayani. That activism calls to mind José P. Rizal, a national hero, who famously said, “youth is the hope of our future.”

An archipelago made up of 7,107 islands that boast some of the best beaches in the world as well as vast and colorful marine biodiversity, Philippines’ future should be bright. Fillennials are working hard to make sure that’s the case.

Their trademark love of social media, often made fun of, is put to good use here. Through platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, fillennials are redefining the face of tourism, becoming trendsetters and bringing sustainable tourism into the spotlight.

Sustainable tourism is “development that meets the needs of present tourists and host regions while protecting and enhancing the opportunity for the future,” according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNTWO).

“Through tourism, the Philippines aspires to become a stronger player in the integrated travel industry of today. Yet, the country realizes that to do so, it must conserve, protect and strengthen the cultural, historical and natural resources upon which the Philippines draws its unique competitive advantages,” the Philippine Institute for Development Studies said on its website. “All these are in a manner that can be sustained for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations of Filipinos.”

Filipino youth are cautious when travelling, as touring responsibly is necessary for sustainable tourism — they create a positive impact through preservation of the area. Fillennials prefer not to stay in hostel or tourist apartments but they prefer the Homestay online service to experience authentic traveling and allow them to interact with the locals to understand the importance of the environment.

Fillennials have been aware of touring responsibly through symposia. Many conferences tackle the subject. Global Young Forum 2017, for example, recently taught delegates about government tourism initiatives and best practices to guide youth toward sustainable tourism. Cultural preservation, environmental and rural conservation, and community development were among the many topics at the forum.

Credit: Keneth Ofrecio/GYV

Credit: Keneth Ofrecio/GYV

Community-based and academic organizations as well as university student councils are the primary organizers of symposia. Through these student efforts, widespread campaign on sustainable tourism has been known. Far Eastern University’s Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management and its Tourism Student Council recently launched a seminar on “Emerging Concerns in Responsible Tourism and Research Building,” focusing on sustainability.

“Through such these efforts, apathy within the youth has been eventually decreasing as the number of attendees in events like these is gradually increasing,” Lhester Peria, a student-organizer at FEU, told Global Young Voices.

Philippine tourism kicked off in 2017 with a surge in arrivals. Inbound visitors amounted to 631,639, the highest ever recorded volume of tourists received by the country in a single month, surpassing the 600,000 mark for the first time. This volume registered an impressive growth of 16.48% from the 542,258 visitor count in January 2016. This strong performance could be attributed to the significant increase of arrivals from China and the recently held Miss Universe competition, among others.

As tourism numbers surge, Fillennials are increasingly aware of the importance of sustainable tourism and its effect on the economy.

“The potential of tourism for sustainable development is considerable,” former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon once said. “As one of the world’s leading employment sectors, tourism provides important livelihood opportunities, helping to alleviate poverty and drive inclusive development.”

Cover cartoon credit: Sergio Algeri/GYV

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