The MIMAROPA Regional Development Council (RDC) hosted the 10th RDC-Private Sector Representatives (PSRs) National Convention last April 09-12 at Citystate Asturias Hotel Palawan in Puerto Princesa City. The event was participated in by about 150 PSRs and NEDA representatives all over the country.

Under the theme “#ECOtOURism: Partnerships for Sustainability”, the national convention aimed to strengthen partnerships toward sustainable tourism focusing on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In his welcome remarks, MIMAROPA RDC Chairperson and Palawan Governor Jose Ch. Alvarez acknowledged the importance of private sector as partner in nation building. He encouraged the participants to craft policies and identify programs, projects, and activities that can be implemented by both the public and private sectors.

NEDA Assistant Secretary for Regional Development Mercedita A. Sombilla, in her message, regarded the national conference as a good opportunity to rethink policies and measures toward viable and sustainable tourism.

Chief Executive Officer of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) Randy Durband served as keynote speaker during the national convention. He highlighted the GSTC criteria for industry and destinations developed for sustainable tourism, which were already adopted by countries such as Indonesia, South Korea, and Sri Lanka.

Former Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Narzalina Z. Lim discussed the topic, “Kasaganaan or Economic Sustainability” in relation to SDGs 8, 9, 10, and 12. She emphasized how tourism planning process should show balance in the economic, socio-cultural, and environmental objectives as well as integration of SDGs in development planning and operations.

Former National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) Chairperson Dr. Felipe M. De Leon, Jr. presented the topic “Malasakit or Socio-cultural Sustainability” in relation to SDGs 11 and 16. He underscored the seven facets of cultural worth and its usefulness in the identification of most noteworthy attractions.

For the topic “Kalikasan or Environmental Sustainability,” NEDA Regional Office in Western Visayas (NRO VI) Regional Director Ro-Ann A. Bacal discussed the Midterm Boracay Action Plan and creation of Boracay Inter-Agency Management Group (BIARMG). BIARMG General Manager Natividad Y. Bernardino, on the other hand, presented updates on the Boracay Island Rehabilitation, and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Assistant Secretary for Field Operations-Southern Luzon Reynulfo A. Juan presented the “Battle for Manila Bay” or the Manila Bay Rehabilitation experience.

Climate Change Commission Assistant Secretary Atty. Rommel Antonio O. Cuenca, meanwhile, discussed the topic “Tourism and Climate Change” in relation to SDG 13. He pointed out the need to create an enabling environment for the private sector to invest in green and climate-friendly ventures.

MIMAROPA PSR Rodne R. Galicha, assisant lead convenor of the 10th RDC-PSRs National Convention, explained the mechanics of the workshop “Toward Sustainable Tourism.” Said workshop aimed to harmonize the SDGs and Regional Development Plans (RDPs) indicators relative to sustainable tourism and identify tourism sustainability measures to be undertaken by both the private and public sectors.

Chief Executive Officer and President of the Society for Sustainable Tourism and Development, Inc. Susan De Cardenas, on the other hand, provided reaction to the workshop outputs. The list of tourism sustainability indicators based on synchronized/harmonized SDG and RDP indicators and priority tourism sustainability strategies, policy, reforms, programs, projects, and activities will further be endorsed to the DOT and DENR.

Key issues and concerns raised include: 1) possibility of having more PSR members in the RDCs for increased sector representation; 2) standardication of honoraria of PSRs; 3) resolution/agreement relating to PSR conventions; 4) membership of CCC to RDC Sectoral Committees; and 5) absence of common platform for communication among RDC-PSRs.

In closing, MIMAROPA PSR Marvi R. Trudeau, lead convenor of the 10th RDC-PSRs National Convention, expressed her gratitude for all the support in making the national convention a success. She emphasized the importance of having the public and private sectors work together toward sustainable development.

The 10th RDC-PSRs National Convention was aired in “Bagong Pilipinas,” a People’s Television Network morning show hosted by Mr. Julliano Fernando A. Guiang.

In 2020 and 2021, the Eastern Visayas and Caraga RDCs will host the 11th and 12th RDC-PSRs National Conventions, respectively.