By BusinessMirror - June 17, 2019
In this time of global warming and climate change, the integration of two complementary principles of “sustainable” and “responsible” in the context of tourism has become a relevant issue among industry leaders, organizations and local communities.
In line with the Department of Tourism’s (DOT) National Tourism Development Plan 2016-2022 to “develop highly competitive, environmentally sustainable and socially responsible tourism that promotes inclusive growth,” the first national green certification program in the country called the Anahaw-Philippine Sustainable Tourism Certification has been developed by the Gruppe Angepasste Technologie (GrAT), or Center for Appropriate Technology in collaboration with the DOT.
Headquartered at the Vienna University of Technology in Austria, GrAT is an independent research association established in 1986, which has been the strong driving force in promoting carbon-neutral operations and sustainable tourism in the Philippines and Thailand through its project called Zero Carbon Resorts (ZCR).
Supported by the European Union and the Austrian Development Cooperation, ZCR is a green tourism initiative that began in 2010.
The initial run of the project was a strong collaboration between GrAT and the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) that enabled tourism small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Palawan to switch from fossil fuel to renewable energy.
“Palawan’s unspoiled landscapes and rich biodiversity made it a compelling start for the project,” said Dr. Robert Wimmer, project leader of the ZCR Project and the chairman of GrAT.
“Among the main challenges and opportunities we encountered were limited access to electricity and renewable resources and inclusive community development. Palawan was the right place to showcase what can be done in the future.”
To date, the ZCR Project has 870 registered members covering more than 68,000 hotel rooms across 35 provinces in the Philippines and 311 members from different provinces in Thailand.
Innovations in sustainability
As the main proponent of the program, Wimmer developed ZCR’s three-tier approach of Reduce, Replace and Redesign (3R).
These practices include harnessing renewable energy through the installation of solar panels, replacing light bulbs, ceiling fans and air-conditioning units with energy-efficient models, and installation of low-flow shower heads and faucets.
It also involves applying design principles that allow natural ventilation and daylight to lessen the use of appliances.
Implementation of these changes have resulted in annual savings of P549 million and a yearly reduction of 31,935 tons of carbon emissions among the pioneer members of the ZCR project.
Through the Anahaw-Philippine Sustainable Tourism Certification, more hotels and resorts around the country will be able to shift to more sustainable operations and save on operation costs.
A Level 1 Anahaw-certified resort can save up to 29 percent, while reaching Level 5 (the highest attainable degree) could mean cutting operational costs in half.
GrAT’s technical consultants conduct an assessment using key indicators that create a clear picture of an establishment’s performance and its corresponding environmental impact.
This includes measuring energy (kilowatt-hour per guest-night) and water (cubic meter per guest-night) consumption.
The assessment also considers the promotion of cultural heritage, environmental protection, community involvement and local government regulation compliance.
Once certified, the Anahaw certification is valid for two years and can be renewed.
Pioneer Anahaw awardees include Amarela Resort (Bohol), Daluyon Beach and Mountain Resort (Palawan) and Sangat Island Dive Resort (Palawan) for Level 4, while Cebu Elicon House (Cebu), The Mayflower Inn (Cebu), West Gorordo Hotel (Cebu), Seda Nuvali (Laguna), Crimson Hotel Filinvest City (Muntinlupa City), Shangri-la’s Mactan Resort and Spa (Cebu) are among the Level 3 awardees.
Other Anahaw awardees include resorts and hotels in key destinations: Bohol Beach Club, The Bellevue Resort and Donatela Hotel in Bohol; Balay Tuko Garden Inn and Swimming Pool, Puerto Pension, Qi Palawan and Coron Hilltop View Resort in Palawan; P & I Resorts Inc.-Pulchra, Quest Hotel and Conference Center, Crimson Resort and Spa Mactan, and Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark in Cebu; Microtel by Wyndham South Forbes, Hotel Dominique and Nurture Wellness Village in Cavite; Misibis Resort and Hotel (Albay); Club Balai Isabel (Batangas); Lalaguna Villas (Oriental Mindoro); and The Lighthouse Marina Resort (Zambales).
A New Chapter Begins
The quest for green tourism continues as GrAT begins a new chapter and gears up for its next round of Anahaw certification applications.
“These innovations will not just empower and provide long-term value to tourism establishments but will also raise awareness and educate tourists,” Wimmer shared. “This is a call for tourism establishments to step forward, shift their minds and take part in this movement. Our team is ready to guide new partners in achieving their full ‘green’ potential.”