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Eco-tourism is doable in Philippines: tour operator

MANILA – The Philippines seeks to grow tourist arrivals while preserving the environment and reversing destruction wrought in the past, one of the country’s largest tour operators said Monday.

Mangroves are being replanted across the country, dynamite fishers have been retooled as whale-watching guides, and trees are being planted by the same people who burned forests down using the “kaingin” method, said Rajah Travel president Aileen Clemente said.

Former mining sites can be converted into research and climate centers, Clemente told ANC’s “Market Edge with Cathy Yang.”

“Everything is doable, especially now that eco-tourism is more than just a buzz word. It’s actually a consciousness that’s existing,” Clemente said.

Eco-tourism is an advocacy of Environment Secretary Gina Lopez, who has angered the mining industry by ordering the closure or suspension of 28 mines and threatening to cancel 75 contracts.

“We know that we should take care of Mother Earth and all of these industries that are perceived to be destructive, in a way, can be converted into something more productive and for all people,” Clemente said.

Bohol island is a model for sustainable tourism, she said. In areas where development has “gone over,” restoration efforts are underway, she said.



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