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Senate to inquire into state of local tourism amid virus

A SENATOR has filed a resolution to look into the status of ecotourism sites in the country amid a coronavirus pandemic.

“It is necessary for the Senate to conduct an inquiry on the matter to determine the status of ecotourism sites and identify the potentials and challenges of ecotourism development in the country,” Senator Maria Lourdes Nancy S. Binay said in the resolution.

Ecotourism can sustain an area if it is aligned with Philippine economic development and conservation strategies, the lawmaker said, citing a study by the Department of Science and Technology (DoST).

The agency’s National Research Council of the Philippines in an August 2020 study cited 16 ecotourism sites with the best practices.

This included Mt. Pulag National Park, Masungi Georeserve Park and Manleluag Spring Protected Landscape in Luzon; Taklong Island Marine Reserve, Danao Adventure Park and Oslob Whale Shark Tourism in the Visayas; and Philippine Eagle Center, Dahilayan Adventure Park and Tinuy-an Falls in Mindanao.

A National Geographic article has also cited Boracay Island, Manila Bay and Sagada in Benguet as popular ecotourism sites.

“Ecotourism, an alternative to mass tourism, is poised to reign supreme in the Philippine travel industry’s transition to the new normal post-COVID-19, according to experts at the Ecotourism Philippines webinar,” Ms. Binay said in the resolution.

The tourism industry was among the hard-hit sectors when the government locked down the entire Luzon island in mid-March to contain the pandemic.

The global tourism sector has been devastated by the pandemic, and the World Economic Forum (WEF) has predicted that 120 million jobs were at risk, with economic damage likely to exceed more than $1 trillion.

International travel came to a screeching halt at the height of the global pandemic in April and May, resulting in international tourist arrivals that trailed last year’s total by almost 60% through the first five months of 2020.

The World Tourism Organization earlier said it expected international tourism receipts to drop by $910 billion to $1.2 trillion this year, which would set the global tourism industry back by two decades. — Charmaine A. Tadalan

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