DOT eyes basic template for PHL eco-tourism sites

By Azer N. Parrocha

MANILA, Sept. 22 (PNA) — The Department of Tourism (DOT) is planning to create a basic template for Philippine eco-tourism sites to serve as a benchmark for nature-based tourist destinations to follow.

DOT Assistant Secretary Arturo Boncato Jr. told reporters in an interview that the department is currently working on identifying key tourism sites nationwide to be “model eco-tourism sites.”

“Eco-tourism is really handled in a very local level. Now, we’re trying to have a basic template without really constricting them, but (creating) a structure to use in developing eco-tourism,” Boncato said.

“Hopefully, after we finish, they become the benchmark for eco-tourism,” he added.

Boncato said that recent data from the DOT shows there are more or less 87 eco-tourism sites in protected areas determined by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Out of the 87 protected areas which are open for eco-tourism activities, Boncato said that the department has so far identified and proposed three sites for development and funding.

These sites include the Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park in Negros Oriental, the Kapihan Nature Adventure Park in Siargao Island, and the Paoay Lake National Park in Ilocos Norte.

However, Boncato stressed that almost all regions in the country are homes to eco-tourism sites.

“Communities living by waterfalls, streams, and rivers (are eco-tourism sites). What we hope is to inspire more communities to have a strong conscious on eco-tourism because they are also our partners in guarding our environment,” the DOT official said.

He did not give a specific date on when the department intends to roll out the template. However, he stressed the importance of conserving biodiversity as it will also help local communities have another source of income. (PNA)