Over 350 youth from all over Cebu have pledged to help pursue “sustainable, inclusive, and responsible tourism” in the province during the Cebu Youth 4 Tourism Summit: Wired and Free last August 21.
The summit participants, who were students from selected schools and youths endorsed by the different tourism offices of Cebu towns and component cities, signed a manifesto where they promised to “commit to mainstreaming sustainable tourism development in eliminating poverty and ensure the protection and conservation of our natural and cultural environment.”
Joselito “Boboi” Costas, Cebu provincial tourism officer, said the speakers, including those from outside Cebu, were especially impressed with how seriously the youth tackled the issues confronting the tourism industry that they discussed and identified solutions for.
“We will develop partnerships between international, government, nongovernment and the private sector with a shared vision and an integrated approach of poverty alleviation through tourism. We commit to ensure that tourism development strategies focus on more equitable distribution of wealth and services,” the youth said in the manifesto.
“We will focus our efforts at the local destinations within the framework of national policies…(and) create opportunities which empower and enable local communities to have access to information and to influence and take decisions,” they added.
They likewise pledged to “remove all forms of discrimination against people working or seeking to work in tourism and eliminate any exploitation, particularly against women and children”, as well as “commit to plan and apply resources for tourism sustainability.”
During the summit breakout discussion, the youth identified rooms for improvement in the tourism sector, particularly on infrastructure, transportation, institutional issues, social issues, accommodation, facilities, and support services, among others, and came up with solutions to the issues.
“The youth are a fount of talent that if tapped properly would serve as catalyst and prime mover in effecting positive change,” Costas said.
Speakers during the one-day summit were Ann Dumaliang, general manager of Masungi Georeserve, who talked on “Creating a Sense of Place”; Rex Layos, distributor of Kawayan Watches, who spoke on “Sustainability in Entrepreneurship”; April Cuenca, blogger and owner of social app Tripkada, on “Building Communities to Travel”; Canadian travel blogger Kyle “Kulas” Jennermann on “Travel Storytelling”; Max Limpag, journalist and apps developer on “Digital Tourism”; and Bhobby Nacordo, Provincial Human Resources and Management officer, on “Careers in Tourism”.
Dumaliang said tourists should focus on what is local and immerse in it, while Layos spoke on exercising one’s freedom to choose from among similar products by picking sustainable alternatives.
Cuenca, on the other hand, said tourism should build communities, while Jennermann advised that we should focus on sharing happiness and not dwelling on the negatives.
For Max Limpag, everyone should embrace technology as it is a tool that helps improve tourism, in particular, and our lives, in general. Nacorda, meanwhile, said there are actually many job opportunities related to tourism available for today’s youth.
Meanwhile, in partnership with Smart Communications, the Technology, Research, and Innovation for People, Prosperity, and Planet Sustainability, or TRIPPPS, which is a search for the best app using digital technology in giving solutions to tourism issues, was also launched during the summit.
Costas said the summit was also in celebration of 2017 as “International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development”, which is a “unique opportunity to explore and highlight tourism’s potential to help transform the world into a place of prosperity and wellbeing for all”.
Costas said that while tourism generates jobs and stimulates economic growth, it should be sustainable. Thus, he said, having the right policies in place is paramount, as it contributes to the preservation of ecosystems and biodiversity, protection of natural and cultural heritage, and solutions to many other pressing challenges.
The summit was sponsored by SM as venue partner; Golden Prince Hotel, which offered free accommodation for the speakers; Kawayan Watches; Smart Communications; and Human Nature.
The first 150 participants who registered online got freebies. Kawayan watches, LTE-ready cellphones, wi-fi sticks, and Human Nature products, were also raffled off. #
Youth participants and Cebu Provincial Tourism Office staff led by Tourism Officer Boboi Costas pose for the customary group photo at the end of the successful Cebu Youth 4 Tourism Summit 2017.