UNWTO praises sustainable tourism program of Balesin Island Club

Published on : Friday, June 23, 2017

UNWTO logoOfficials of the UNWTO praised the sustainable-tourism program of Balesin Island Club, which is the flagship project of business tycoon Roberto V. Ongpin’s Alphaland Corp.


The UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai said in a press conference, “I thought, ‘Would I be seeing a Disneyland?’ But not at all. There’s so much creativity here and might I say, ‘Filipino-ness’ in workmanship, which has a common theme.”


Dr. Rifai added, “The money spent here, stays here. All the furniture is made here, and all the food is produced here…. People here are employed. While I cannot say how the Philippines is doing exactly in terms of sustainable tourism development compared to other countries, this [Balesin] is a good example of it.”


Dr. Rifai, along with his spouse, Nisrin Shawwa, and other executives of the UNWTO, as well as officials of the Department of Tourism (DOT), led by Secretary Wanda Corazon T. Teo, toured Balesin as a side activity to the ongoing Sixth International Conference
on Tourism Statistics, which ends today, Friday.


Sustainable tourism, as per the UNWTO, is “tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.”


Alphaland COO Michael M. Asperin said that the resort club airport’s 1.5-kilometer runway, doubles as a rainwater catchment. It is constructed at a certain angle that will enable falling rainwater to wash off into water reservoirs and ponds. “We are able to collect 200 million liters of rainwater, that can sustain the island six to eight months even if no rain comes,” he stressed. He added that Balesin also grows much of its own food, like vegetables and fruits, such as dragon fruit, grapes “most of which are put in our guest rooms”.


To quote the DOT Secretary Wanda Corazon T. Teo, “Projects such as this humanize the tourism industry, or in other words, bring back the ‘people factor’ in the equation of tourism development to ensure that guests and host communities learn and benefit from each other’s interaction, thus, enriching the whole tourism experience.”


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