October 13, 2022
The industry is currently dominated by conventional tourism, which Lee described during the webcast as having a top-down approach and limited participation from the local community and focusing on inward investments and infrastructure.
Christine Paula Love Bernasor, Visayas Coordinator of Climate Reality Philippines, agreed with Lee and emphasized that profit-driven conventional tourism only promotes inequitable distribution of income, changes in the social fabric of communities, and environmental degradation.
“We are also experiencing a lot of overpopulation in our popular tourist destinations. One is Boracay, it used to be home to a lot of indigenous people groups and now they are just living in a small portion,” she revealed.
Bernasor also pointed out that the traditional approach to tourism is extractive and exploitative. She noted that the sector is responsible for 8% of the world’s carbon emissions with footprints generated from transport, food and beverages, and lodging services.
Regenerative tourism, on the other hand, is characterized by Bernasor as an approach that creates thriving conditions for the well-being of communities and the environment, acknowledges indigenous knowledge and practices, and possesses a dynamic view of the ecosystem.
Lee, on the other hand, noted that regenerative tourism prioritizes the needs of the community, improves ecosystem integrity and biodiversity, embraces diverse and inclusive business models, enhances regenerative partnerships, and governs in a transparent and just manner.
“[Regenerative tourism] seeks to ensure that travel and tourism reinvest in people, places, and nature while supporting the long-term renewal and flourishing of our socio-ecological systems,” Lee added.
Lee also talked about permaculture, a form of regenerative tourism that is already being practiced in the past 20 years in the country.
Lee highlighted the role of tourism stakeholders (government, tourists, communities, tourism organizations and operators, small and medium enterprises, social and environmental non-government organizations, etc.) as change agents toward regenerative tourism. She emphasized the need for organizations and enterprises to shift their lenses from ego-centric to eco-centric, and from individual competition to collective collaboration.
Bernasor noted that tourism stakeholders must respect local people, preserve the local environment, achieve socio-economic benefits, and protect cultural heritage. She also provided advice to travelers who wish to get into the whole movement of regenerative tourism.
“For travelers, especially for the youth: First, advocate for places that have permatourism. It’s about supporting those that are already existing doing regenerative tourism. And if you have the time, you should invest in these businesses. Make a connection with the community and nature,” she added.