The wonders of traveling are figuratively a click away for today’s youth. It is more apparent that the millennials, with their spending capability and insatiable thirst for exploring and sharing their experiences, are in the position to redefine the face of tourism as we knew it.
Social media abounds with proof. Whether it is about scaling a mountain or diving under the sea, today’s travelers are more than willing to tell others about their memories. Many profiles show a glimpse of travel stories captured in breathtaking photos and cool travel videos.
But traveling is not just about adventure and pampering. Nowadays, the adventure of a lifetime comes with soul searching and giving back components. Putting meaning to their globetrotting, young explorers go for authentic experiences, which explain the surge of homestay, “voluntourism” or volunteering for tourism efforts, and interaction with locals.
Those at the helm of the tourism sector can feel the impact of the new travel practices. The preferences of the new breed of travelers are shaping the industry, and sustainable and responsible travel are gaining more traction.
These developments will be among the trends highlighted at the Global Youth Forum (GYF) 2017, a conference organized by the International School of Sustainable Tourism (SST) headed by former Department of Tourism Secretary Mina T. Gabor.
To be held on February 20-21, 2017 at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center (SBECC), Subic Bay Freeport Zone, the forum will carry the theme “Youth on Sustainable Tourism.”
This pushes forward the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s (UNTWO) announcement that 2017 is the “International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.” The event also celebrates the chairmanship of the Republic of the Philippines of the upcoming “ASEAN 2017: 50th Anniversary.”
Defining sustainable tourism
Sustainable travel is a buzzword and a lifestyle statement that encourages the adoption of a proactive and green stance on traveling.
UNTWO defined it as the “development [that] meets the needs of present tourists and host regions while protecting and enhancing the opportunity for the future.”
Responsible tourism is closely linked to sustainable tourism as it is any form of tourism that impacts positively on the visited communities.
GYF 2017 program
The GYF 2017 sessions aim to create awareness and appreciation for sustainable tourism, expose the youth to leaders pioneering sustainable tourism from all over the world, and inspire the youth to practice responsible travel.
To deliver the opening remarks is Dr. Mina T. Gabor, the President of the International School of Sustainable Tourism (ISST) to be followed by Martin Dino, the Chairman of Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (TBC), for the welcome greetings and Alma Rita Jimenez, the Undersecretary of Department of Tourism, for a special message.
Five sessions will be spread throughout the event. The opening workshop is “Heritage Tourism: Building a Strong Foundation Through Cultural Preservation.” The speakers for this session are Eric Zerrudo, Director, University of Santo Tomas Graduate School, Conservation of Cultural Property and Environment in the Tropics; Ivan Henares, Head of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts Committee on Monuments and Sites; Marika Constantino, Executive Director of Escolta 98B COLLABoratory; and Atty. Lucille Karen Malilong-Isberto, Vice President for Institutional Partnerships, Heritage Conservation Society.
The next session will be “Striking a Balance: Ecotourism for Environmental
Conservation and Rural Development.” The speaker line-up consists of Jamie Anne Dichaves, Sustainability Officer and Pollution Control Officer of Lio Tourism Estate; Jose Angelito Palma, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and President of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Philippines; Joselito Costas, Provincial Tourism Officer from Cebu; and Ann Dumaliang, Project Officer from Masungi Georeserve Park.
On the second day, session three will commence. For “A Match Made in Heaven: Community Development and Tourism,” the speakers will include Juliette Kwee, Founder of World Experience Philippines; Jun Tibi, Co-Founder, Kawil Tours; Sara Erasmo, Co-Founder of Reef Nomads Skin Diving Tours; Kelly Austria, Co-Founder of TRails to Empower Kids (TREK); and April Cuenca, Founder and CEO of Tripkada.
The penultimate session is entitled, “Doing Our Part: Responsible Travelling for the Millennial Traveller.” Participants will hear from Sarah Aquino, Director of External Affairs of Juan Portrait; Marie Grace Pascua, Director, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples Socioeconomic Services and Special Concerns; Jen Horn, Founder and CEO of Muni Cultural Creatives Inc.; Shernan Gamol, Founder and Chairman of Keep Home Alive; and Yay Ortega, President of the Mountaineering Federation of the Philippines.
The last batch of talk will be centered on “A Green Future: Career Opportunities in Sustainable Development in Tourism.” Attendees will glean insights from the presentations of Jie Cheng Wong, Youth Tourism Ambassador of Pacific Asia Travel Association; Raf Dionisio, Co-Founder of Make A Difference (MAD) Travel; Bob Zozobrado, Executive Director, Center for Career Services and Industry Relations of the Lyceum of the Philippines University (Manila campus); and Robert John Horrigan, the Vice President of the Hotel Division of Hotel and Restaurant Association of the Philippines.
Strong influence on tourism
According to Gabor, since the youth has more interest and ability to travel than previous generations, they need to have a wider and deeper view of how their travel practices and experiences shape the future of tourism.
“It is, therefore, important to create awareness and provide inspiration to the youth that sustainable tourism is the future, and that they can make it happen,” she said.
GYF 2017 is co-presented by the Department of Tourism (DoT); Tourism Promotions Board Philippines (TPB); and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA). It is endorsed by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED); Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG); Department of Education (DepEd); and the National Youth Commission (NYC).
The event is sponsored by Globe Telecom and Philippines AirAsia. It is also supported by Hawk Philippines and Manila North Tollways Corporation.