The Great Tradeoff: Balancing the re-opening of tourist destinations and public safety during COVID-19

Date: Aug 26, 2020, Wednesday

Time: 10:00 AM Philippine Standard Time

Speaker: Chen Reyes-Mencias, EnP, Tourism Planning Consultant, Bluewater Consultancy

As the Philippines grapples with the decision to save its battered economy, it is also faced with the fact that COVID-19 is still a serious threat to the lives of people. Although some experts argue that re-opening the economy too early may cause a second wave, which may force another lockdown, the National Government has given the go signal for some provinces to consider re-opening their tourism destinations to domestic tourists.

In this webinar, Environmental Planner Chen Reyes-Mencias provided local governments and communities some insights on how to re-open tourism destinations during these unprecedented times. She covered:

• Strategies for re-opening;
• Action plan that will balance economic recovery and public health;
• Public safety.

You can watch the recording on our Facebook page.

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Ecotourism Site Spotlight: Masinloc, Zambales

Masinloc in Zambales can be found 230 kilometers northwest of Metro Manila and 110 km from the Subic Bay Freeport. It is known to be the birthplace of coastal resource management in Luzon and the first community-run marine protected area.Residents of San Salvador Island used to conduct illegal fishing before they were converted to stewards of nature. The area was considered a “dead zone” of corals due to cyanide and dynamite fishing.

PictureMore than a decade ago, the decline in fish population caused great concern among the residents. It led them to seeking the help of the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI) in Pangasinan to mitigate the problem. The community lobbied for stronger protection and pushed for an active participation of local fisher folks in the management of marine sanctuaries in San Salvador.
Today, San Salvador has a coral and giant clam farm and other marine protected areas. The people of Masinloc now actively help in protecting the marine life, seeing the benefits from the livelihood that ecotourism brings.

PictureVisitors have the opportunity to go snorkeling in the 2-hectare giant clam farm and the marine protected area in San Salvador.

Other spots of interest in Masinloc are the Bacala sandbar where visitors can lounge on the beach or swim in the shallow waters, the 9-hectare Yaha islet mangrove forest, Bani which is known to be one of the best dive sites in the province, and Panglit Island, a 5-ha ranching site for sea cucumbers where sea horses can also be found.

Visitors can avail of a one-day ecotour to visit some of these places. Masinloc’s reef rangers, trained local fisher folks, serve as guides in these activities. They not only assist guests during the tour but also share their knowledge of the sites, marine life, and the importance and benefits of environmental conservation and resource management

2nd Philippine Ecotourism 101 a huge success


The second Philippine Ecotourism 101 held March 3 & 4, 2016 at Pines View Hotel in Baguio City was attended by 91 delegates from 41 organizations. Participants were composed of representatives from local government units, provincial government offices, tourism councils, DOT and the private sector. There were delegates coming from all over the country and surprisingly, a huge chunk were from Mindanao.


Several responded with positive feedback and expressed their appreciation of the tools, concepts and methodologies that they learned from the training. Attendees also enjoyed networking with others who are as keen to learn about ecotourism to develop or improve products in their respective areas.

Tourism planning consultants Louie and Chen Mencias covered a variety of topics including ecotourism concepts, framework and tools for site selection, heritage mapping, basics on product development, enterprise development and destination management. They also featured case studies of Taal Volcano Protected Landscape and Batanes Protected Landscape and Seascape.

Helen A. Cutillar, the tourism officer of Sagay City in Negros Occidental, also presented and shared what they have done in Sagay Marine reserve, one of the model ecotourism sites in the Philippines. She imparted their strategies, plans, and most importantly, what they have learned over the years.

Towards the end of the seminar, attendees signed a pledge wall to signify their promise to protect our environment, to be responsible stewards of our natural destinations and to promote responsible and sustainable tourism.

Picture       Picture

All in all, it was a successful and enriching event. You can view the photos of the event below.

Our team would like to thank our main partners, Bluewater Consultancy and Ecotourism Philippinesthe Department of Tourism – Cordillera Administrative RegionAquamundoConquer and EPIC Philippines.

We will be holding another Philippine Ecotourism 101 training soon. To be updated of upcoming seminars, please sign-up to receive our newsletters here or follow us on Facebook here.

If you would like to get in touch with our speakers, please email us at sui.eventspro@gmail.com

​Ecotourism Site Spotlight: Sagay, Negros Occidental

Sandbar at Panal Reef

Sagay City, located in Negros Occidental, is blessed with one of the largest marine protected areas in the country – 32-000 hectares in total. The Sagay Marine Reserve or SMR was initiated by then Mayor Alfredo Maranon in the 1970s and has become a perfect example of marine diversity. It was opened to the public only in 2009 and has already attracted a significant number of tourists. This marine reserve is composed of small islands, sand bars and shallow coral reefs.


One of the most popular sites in SMR is Carbin Reef where you can snorkel to see a variety of corals, schools of fishes, hundreds of giant clams, and if you’re lucky, you might just be able to spot sea turtles. Or if you prefer to stay by the shore, you can lounge around the unique, tongue-shaped sand bar. The clear blue water is also perfect for swimming.

Macahulom and Panal reefs are also favorite among tourists, having colorful coral reefs and marine life as well as migratory birds.

Suyac Islet, also located in SMR, is a small community where the city’s oldest mangrove forest thrives. A community-based tourism project has been established by the city government and it is  providing an economic incentive for the island residents to protect the mangrove area.

The city also has the Museo Sang Bata, an interactive museum for children, the only one of its kind in the Philippines.

The tourism office of Sagay City advocates sustainable and responsible tourism. They play an active role in ensuring that SMR is protected from irresponsible practices so that both visitors in the area and local communities continue to benefit from the beauty and abundance that SMR has to offer.

Hear more about Sagay’s tourism products and best practices from Helen Cutillar, Tourism Officer of Ciy of Sagay, at the second Philippine Ecotourism 101.

Photos are by Louie Mencias and Patricia Mencias

Ecotourism Site Spotlight: Dahican beach

PictureDahican beach located in Mati City, Davao Oriental is far from the usual. Every year, from January to June, several female Pawikans lay their eggs in Dahican.

Amihan sa Dahican, a group of local young surfers and skim boarders who are passionate about the environment, has taken the liberty to be stewards in the area. They protect the eggs by putting fences around them or by transferring them to the hatchery which they have established with the assistance of the Biodiversity Management Bureau.

The beach is also known to be a great surfing spot. Beginners can  get lessons and rent boards from Amihan sa Dahican. Some of the members of the group have also been trained to conduct snorkeling activities in nearby reefs. They can also take you to the nearby islands to see other beaches and natural attractions.

There have been regular sightings of dugong and whale sharks in the area. Dolphins have regularly passed through the eastern seaboard of Mindanao during summer, allowing visitors to go dolphin watching during early mornings.

Another site worth visiting in the area is the museum in Mati City that features what the province has to offer. The museum even has a humongous skeleton of a whale at their lobby.

To get more information about Palaui or if you would like to visit the island, please go to the website of Ecotourism Philippines.

Photos are by Patricia Mencias