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									      Eco-Mismo: The Philippine Conference on Ecotourism and Eco-
                              Productivity

                                 October 8, 2009
                          Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium
                          Level 4, Tower 2, RCBC Plaza


                                Welcome Address

                              Narzalina Z. Lim
                         Conference Chairperson
President, Asia Pacific Projects, Inc., Tourism and Hospitality Consultants


I am honored to have been invited by my former boss, President Fidel V. Ramos,
to chair this Conference and thank him for initiating this, and the series of
conferences to follow, on such an important subject – sustainable tourism
development.

Tourism is one of the biggest and fastest-growing industries in the world.
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization or UNWTO, there
were 900 million international arrivals in 2007, a growth of 6% - well above its
forecast of 4.1%. This growth was significant, considering weak economies;
terrorist activities worldwide; the volatility of fuel prices; natural disasters; and
health pandemics. Our region, the Asia Pacific Region, is the fastest growing
tourism region. Visitor arrivals rose 10.2% to 184.9 million in 2007, driven largely
by the two best performing subregions – Southeast Asia, where the Philippines
belongs, and Northeast Asia, where China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, and
Korea belong.          When people travel, they use transportation and
accommodations. They engage in activities which generate carbon dioxide and
solid waste. In 2005, the UNWTO estimated that tourism contributed 5% of the
world’s carbon dioxide emissions. Thus, tourism activity exerts great pressure on
our environment and those of us in the industry are called upon to exercise more
responsibility in the operation of our businesses and for governments to plan
long-term, using sustainable strategies and practices.

We have invited this afternoon, highly-qualified speakers who will share with us
their experiences in using these sustainable strategies and practices. One
speaker will talk about the use of technology as a way of reducing greenhouse
gas emissions. You will hear many terms used – ecotourism, green productivity,
eco-productivity, community-based tourism, agri-tourism, responsible tourism.
Let not the jargon confuse you… all of these point to only one conclusion… that
anything that we do, whether we are in the tourism industry or not, must be
sustainable and that our solutions must be integrated, not done in an ad hoc
manner. National and local governments, business enterprises; civil society;
host communities; development partners; media – all of these stakeholders must
work together to address the environmental challenges that we face today. To
set the tone of this Conference, we have invited a speaker to talk about tourism’s
impact on climate and, on the reverse, climate change and its impact on the
tourism industry. It is essential for us to understand the nature of this symbiotic
relationship before we can talk about strategies and best practices.

Your questions and concerns during the open forum would be most welcome and
will help us frame and adjust the program for succeeding conferences. We urge
you to actively participate in the Q & A and the discussions. The Ramos Peace
and Development Foundation intends to publish a report next year on the results
of this series, with the hope that the knowledge gleaned from the presentations
and discussions will contribute towards the adoption by the different
stakeholders, of various strategies which will be financially beneficial for their
businesses; conserve the environment; reduce poverty and promote equity;
and create a society that is responsive to climate change issues.

I welcome you all to this Conference and wish to thank our sponsors, the
Department of Tourism; the Department of Environment and Natural Resources;
Asia Productivity Organization; the Development Academy of the Philippines;
Asia Pacific Projects, Inc. and the Herma Group of Companies, for making this
possible. Thank you, too, to all our speakers, for coming here today to share
their experiences and expertise with us – all in the spirit of wanting to find
common solutions to the development challenges that humankind faces in the
21st century.




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