The Asean Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) topbills as co-organizer of the world’s first green travel mart — the International Ecotourism Travel Mart (IETM), which will be held next year in Silang, Cavite, Philippines.
Slated from March 29 to April 2, 2023, IETM is a historic assembly and world festival that pushes ecotourism in its rightful place in protecting the environment and improving the welfare of the local people.
IETM is co-presented by the Asian Ecotourism Network (AEN) and the International School for Sustainable Tourism (ISST).
IETM gathers from at least 21 countries, in a well-conceived and unique Philippine setting, the world’s buyers and sellers of ecotourism packages; exhibitors of ecotourism-related and sustainability-advancing products, services and destinations; registered participants, speakers and panelists in IETM’s two-day forum and certificate course; and visitors for the public activities.
Dr. Mina T. Gabor, chair and president of the Silang-based ISST, and Dr. Mundita S. Lim, ACB executive director, recently signed the memorandum of agreement covering ACB’s substantial involvement in the green travel mart and festival.
Dr. Gabor, who champions global sustainable tourism after her service as head of the Philippine tourism department, states that ACB’s vital contribution to IETM fast-tracks the event’s goal of protecting the natural environment while uplifting local community welfare.
Dr. Lim says the international travel mart “elevates tourism as a leader in promoting the balance between economic development and harnessing nature as a means to overcome current challenges”.
Citing challenges that ASEAN Heritage Parks faced in the pandemic, the ACB official shares that, as people are excited to be back outdoors again, there is also a growing awareness that nature is part of the solution to public health and climate change-related problems.
“With the IETM 2023, we hope to help jumpstart sustainable economic recovery in the region with the promotion of a greener and biodiversity-conscious tourism industry. “
Active linkage with ACB provides IETM participants with crucial information through sterling resource speakers on best practices involving ASEAN Heritage Parks and protected sites, including their experiences on the pathway to recovery after two years in pandemic.
Dr. Lim states there are 51 heritage sites in ASEAN member countries which are all regarded as important to preserving a wide array of ecosystems in the region.
Of these, she notes that 80 percent are engaged in ecotourism. Local communities in many of these sites have been severely affected by drastic decline in visitors during the pandemic. She narrates the cases of communities around the Gunung Leusur National Park in North Sumatra, and the Way Kambas National Park in Lampung province, where elephants and orangutans are present.
“But these days, as the region is slowly recovering from the impact of the global health crisis, mass tourism is slowly being into more eco-friendly tourism ventures. We see opportunities for greater participation of local communities, empowerment of local cultures, and enhancing windows for sustainability and continuity,” Dr. Lim says.
The ACB facilitates cooperation among ASEAN countries and ASEAN coordination with regional and international organizations to conserve biological diversity and ensure its sustainable use. Set up in 2005, it is also concerned with the equitable sharing of benefits arising from use of these natural treasures.
Experts, ecotourism practitioners, advocates, participants and exhibitors are expected at the IETM for the great opportunity to learn and network across cultures, according to Masaru Takayama, IETM co-chair and AEN president.
AEN, which is the Asian initiative of the Global Ecotourism Network, and based in Costa Rica, provides relevant opportunities for members to work together on a regional scale. It actively seeks out channels for growth opportunities with both small and large organizations within Asia and shares among members significant information and educational materials. The Philippines is an active AEN member.
AEN sees the IETM as a “celebration to make sure that beautiful nature is passed on to the next generations to enjoy.”
To register and for more information on IETM, log on to www.internationalecotourismtravelmart.com.