Travel and Tourism

New tourism campaign #MoreFunForever pivots on sustainable tourism

May Dedicatoria - The Philippine Star
New tourism campaign #MoreFunForever pivots on sustainable tourism
The #MoreFunForever campaign envisions the country’s statement for sustainable tourism to keep the country’s destinations for future generations, hoping to incorporate sustainability into tourism practices, business operations and general lifestyle
Photo Release

BORACAY, Philippines — Not all that happens in Boracay, stays in Boracay. Such is the case of the island’s ongoing rehabilitation, which has already caused a ripple effect. It has set off similar efforts in Manila Bay, El Nido, Panglao, Siargao, Sagada and Baguio.

A few days after the anniversary of Boracay’s closure, the Department of Tourism launched here the “#MoreFunForever” campaign. It envisions the country’s statement for sustainable tourism to keep the country’s destinations for future generations, hoping to incorporate sustainability into tourism practices, business operations and general lifestyle.

Through DOT’s proactive initiatives to save the beauty of the country’s most beautiful destinations, it has grown to become a mission for all Filipinos, businesses and communities alike, to be part of sustainable fun — urging everyone to join the fun, mindfully.

During the event, Noa Macavinta, a Boracay resident, gave an emotional testimony on behalf of the locals.

Sustainable local products displayed during the #MoreFunForever launch. Photo Release

“Having been born here and grown up on the island, I had the luxury to experience an untouched Boracay. But I’ve also seen how the island had developed over the years, and seen firsthand the issues that we have faced, such as the pace of development, lack of infrastructure investment, and the disruption of the habitat of one of the most critically endangered species, the golden-crowned flying fox,” Macavinta said.

“These have been issues that many of us have been fighting for many years. And so we are very grateful and thankful when Boracay and all these issues finally received the attention they deserved from the national government. The rehabilitation is, of course, not without its issues, but we hope that by working together, we’ll be able to create a culture of sustainable tourism,” he continued.

On the other hand, Virgilio Sacdalan, owner of Happy Planet in Boracay, spoke about how the six-month closure made the stakeholders reflect and realize what they have done to the island.

“On day one, it was like a ghost town. But as you start walking, see your friends, the locals, and you get reunited. Rebuilding Boracay was really a struggle to the stakeholders and residents, but it prepared us to become stronger and better stakeholders," Sacdalan said. 

"During the closure, as a resident, I had to adjust. And during that adjustment, I saw the beauty of Boracay. As the days and weeks passed, I had more time to reflect and realize about what has happened to the island. Boracay needed intervention. It needed to be taken care of and loved again,” he shared, adding that businesses in the island have now recovered and are back on track.

“I, as a businessman, have forgotten what the island had given me. I understood and now accepted what needed to be done. I needed to sacrifice for the good of the island. I needed to follow what the BIATF was tasked to do. Now, six months after the opening, the water is cleaner, there’s no more algae, no trash on the beach. We have a brand-new road and brand-new sewer lines… The purpose of the island closure and rehabilitation was to prepare us to become better stakeholders and better Filipinos," he elaborated further. 

Tourism Assistant Secretary Howard Uyking, Undersecretary Art Boncato Jr. and BIARMG deputy commander Al Orolfo. Photo Release

Seven key result areas backed the closure of the island — (1) Providing social safety nets through training, livelihood and employment assistance; (2) ensuring the health and sanitation of Boracay Island; (3) Decongesting Boracay Island; (4) Easing traffic flow; (5) Enforcing the rule of law in Boracay Island; (6) Engaging the stakeholders and the public through an effective domestic and global communications strategy; and (7) Boracay Action Plan.

After the reopening in October, the Boracay Inter-Agency Rehabilitation Management Group (BIARMG) clustered the key areas into different thematic groups, which meant shifting to actual management of the rehabilitation.

“The major challenges now include decongestion and opening of major areas for reconstruction — because you are moving people,” says Tourism Undersecretary Art Boncato Jr.

“It has to do with everything that’s happening on the ground, now that we have reopened. We have to look at the welfare of the tourists, how the local government units are functioning together with the national government agencies, and how the communities are joining the mix of Boracay life," he said. 

Representatives from the Ati tribe attend the launch of the “#MoreFunForever” campaign. Photo Release

Al Orolfo, deputy commander for BIARMG added, “With the help of the community, we’re also asking the tourists to be partners. When they come here, we keep telling them that while they enjoy Boracay, they should be partners.”

Today, around 346 hotels and resorts — over 12,000 rooms — have been accredited. The number is sufficient for the current need, and the island is far from reaching its carrying capacity of 19,215 individuals.

“During the Holy Week, we only had around 8,600 guests. But we have to make sure we don’t breach the limit. Before the reopening, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat also talked to the Civil Aeronautics Board and the airlines, and engaged them to understand that there’s a need to limit the number of flights to Boracay," Boncato said. 

Because sustainability is also hinged on inclusive growth for local communities who are essentially sharing their paradise to the greater public, the campaign promises to source products, supplies and materials locally, and encourage businesses in the island to prioritize hiring the locals.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat brought to light the need to limit the number of flights to Boracay. Photo Release

To support this cause, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) has offered free skills training to workers and residents of Boracay.

The #MoreFunForever launch also gave the spotlight to soaps crafted by the Boracay Ati Tribal Organization (BATO).

“We’re looking forward to having hotels in Boracay committed to stocking their bathrooms with these soaps. That’s thousands of rooms to be refilled every day, benefiting the local community. Through initiatives like this, we are making sure the economic benefits of tourism spread across the island. It’s great for the environment, too, as it lessens plastic waste and minimizes our carbon footprint,” said Secretary Puyat in her video message shown during the event.

Moving forward, Filipinos can expect a sub-campaign under the #MoreFunForever brand.

“Towards the end of the quarter, we will focus on responsible tourism as we intend to change the tourists’ behavior. It’s a marketing effort that will use communication as a tool to educate the audience,” concluded Tourism Assistant Secretary Howard Uyking.

To engage more stakeholders in the movement and further the cause of sustainability, DOT has partnered with various government agencies, companies and organizations, including Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA), GRaT Center for Appropriate Technology and Cebu Pacific.

While the #MoreFunForever launch ended with the breathtaking Boracay sunset as a backdrop, it did not symbolize a finale, but rather a new beginning for the country’s beloved destinations and the whole tourism sector.




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