BY MARK L. GARCIA
Sagay City was included as one of the Green Destination Top 100 Stories List in the world during the Green Destinations and Future of Tourism Summit in Athens, Greece, last night.
The city, which includes the 32,000-hectare protected seascape, was among destinations in the Philippines to be included in the Top 100 list this year, which was determined through a month-long evaluation by the Netherlands-based Green Destinations Foundation earlier this year.
Every year the Green Destinations Top 100 Stories competition collects sustainable tourism stories and good practices from destinations all over the world to be shared as inspiring examples to others, from tourism professionals to travelers.
By telling their stories, destination management organizations are acknowledged and recognized for the solutions they have implemented in response to challenges and problems to sustainable development they have faced.
The announcement, which came in time with the World Tourism Day celebration, was a first for the city and Mayor Narciso Javelosa, Jr., said that “we are honored for this international recognition and it is actually a tribute to our past and present leaders and men and women who worked hard for its decade of protection.”
Vice Mayor Leo Rafael Cueva who championed the sustainable tourism development in 2012 said we should continue our best efforts as we make Sagay City’s destination for the next generations.
Information and Tourism Officer Helen Cutillar said “the international recognition is part of the legacy of the Father Sagay Marine Reserve, the Late Gov. Alfredo G. Maranon, Jr., who laid down the marine conservation in the 1970s.”
This distinction will also not be possible without the commitment of the men and women in our team, in the communities, partners and in our local tourism industry. “More work ahead, but this is truly inspiring,” she added.
The conservation and responsible tourism story focused on the protected seascape including Suyac Island, other island communities and the contiguous mangrove greenbelt which protected the city from strong typhoons.
It can be recalled that Sagay Marine Reserve was featured also at the UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021 COP26 Event: The Vital Role of Mangroves in Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation in 2021.
Former Mayor and current Congressman Thirdy Maranon and Christine Marañon-Dorris assisted in the entry.
Submissions were evaluated by the Green Destinations Top 100 Team, country experts, and Green Destination Partners, coordinated by Green Destinations.
The competition is held under the auspices of the Top 100 Partnership, with special contributions by Green Destinations, QualityCoast, Travelife, ITB Berlin, Asian Ecotourism Network, Ecotourism Australia, Global Ecotourism Network, Sustainable First, and GLP Films. This competition is also supported by the Future of Tourism Coalition.
Green Destinations is a Netherlands-based organization working on the assessment, capacity building, and certification of destinations and businesses committed to sustainable tourism.*