Department of Tourism (DOT) MIMAROPA Regional Director Roberto Alabado III (Photo from PIO Palawan)

Along with the soft launch of the Baragatan sa Palawan Festival 2023, the City Tourism Department (CTD) assembled 26 community-based sustainable tourism (CBST) site associations from across Puerto Princesa for a CBST Convention on Friday, June 9, at the PGP Convention Center.

Department of Tourism (DOT) MIMAROPA Regional Director Roberto Alabado III emphasized the importance of environmental conservation and protection during the event.

He talked about his personal experience as a bird watcher, recalling past trips to Palawan and his love for the endemic Palawan cockatoo.

“Kaming mga bird watchers ay buong pusong nagpapasalamat sa bawat isa sa inyong taga Palawan dahil sa iisang ibon. Ito ‘yung tinatawag ninyong katala o Philippine cockatoo,” said Alabado.

He explained that the katala could still be found throughout the Philippines in the 1960s. However, due to illegal hunting and trade, it is now predominantly found in Palawan.

Alabado praised the Palaweños for their unwavering commitment to nature, recognizing them as devoted defenders and guardians of the environment.

He said community-based sustainable tourism emphasizes the participation and empowerment of local residents in decision-making processes, resource management, and the distribution of economic benefits.

Alabado said this approach recognizes the significance of preserving natural and cultural heritage, supporting local economies, and fostering mutual understanding between visitors and host communities to lead to a more enriching and meaningful travel experience.

Maribel Buñi, the provincial tourism officer and representative of Palawan Governor Victorino Dennis Socrates, acknowledged the vital role of community-based organizations in collaboration with the government to promote economic progress.

She also cited the ongoing development of tourism circuits by their office to benefit a wider audience and attract more tourists.

“Ang kahalagahan ng partisipasyon ng sambayanan ay lubhang napakahalaga sapagkat ang tinig ng nakararami na siyang recipient ng mga serbisyong pampamahalaan na tutugon sa kabutihang panlahat,” Buñi said.

“Kami ay patuloy na nagdedevelop ng tourism circuits, and we hope we can complement each other. Ang gusto talaga natin, mas tumagal ang turista sa ating lalawigan hindi lamang sa Puerto Princesa. Sana kami sa munisipyo ay makinabang din. In that case, mas maraming produkto ang puwede nilang mabili at mas magiging kapakipakinabang na tunay ang industriya ng turismo sa ating lahat,” she stressed.