Wanderlust | Cebu Pacific launches sustainable tourism initiative

On any given day, Cebu Pacific operates around 400 flights daily, both local and international, using approximately 19,000 pieces of plastic in forms of cups, stirrers, and utensils.

With the current state of our environment, with extreme cases such as the closure of Boracay, country’s number one tourism destination for a six-month environmental rehabilitation, Cebu Pacific is heeding the government’s call in making tourism more sustainable and environment friendly.

“We are now doing our share in partnership with the Department of Tourism to advocate for sustainable tourism starting with Juan Effect,” said Cebu Pacific president and CEO Lance Gokongwei during the program’s launch last July 31 at Shangri-la Hotel in Makati City.

Juan Effect, supported by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources along with various local government units, is a call for all tourism stakeholders to come together and collaborate in ensuring that the tourism industry will progress sustainably.

According to Gokongwei, their airline company will set the example by cutting down on the use of non-recyclable plastic to what only is necessary starting October 1. “All non-recyclable plastic utensils will be replaced with sustainable alternatives for inflight meals across all our flights,” he said.

DENR USec Sherwin Rigor

DENR USec Sherwin Rigor

Cebu Pacific, the country’s number one airline, aims to fly 22 million passengers in 2019.

“However, tourism comes with a price as visitors can overwhelm a destination by its sheer number that can negatively affect the environment. This is where sustainability and responsibility now become both critical and necessary,” he added.

To address such concern, the airline is also investing in more fuel efficient aircrafts and technology that will help improve flight operation efficiency, and reduce fuel consumption.

However, reducing impact on the environment doesn’t need to be a massive effort.

“Juan Effect reflects that actions taken by each of us. No matter how small, one can create a significant impact in helping protect our islands when done consistently” he added.

Surigao del Norte congressman Francisco Jose Matugas (second from left), with Gokongwei, Puyat and Rigor

Surigao del Norte congressman Francisco Jose Matugas (second from left), with Gokongwei, Puyat and Rigor

The initiative is aimed at engaging travelers, tourism stakeholders and the communities for a cohesive cooperation in order to mitigate the impact of mass tourism on our fragile environment.

“On the national level, Juan Effect aims to encourage responsible travel to our passnegers and empower them to change at least one everyday habit, such as the mere use of reusable water bottles,” explained Cebu Pacific vice president for marketing and distribution Candice Iyog.

On a local level, Iyog said that Juan Effect will collaborate with island stakeholders to concerted action for environmental conservation.

‘In this case, we have Siargao as our pilot module, working together with DENR, LGUs and tourism organizations to implement sustainable tourism action plans,” Iyog added.

She revealed that the local initiatives will be rolled out in September in Siargao, in time for the surge of tourist for the surfing season.

“It is incumbent upon all of us now to act up while there is still time to manage tourism activities without harming the environment or putting long-term livelihoods at risk,” enthused Gokongwei.

DOT secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat echoed the speech of President Rodrigo Duterte in his State of the Nation Address.

“He clearly said to local governments to not wait for the national government to do their jobs,” Puyat explaining further that those who comply with environmental laws will not suffer the same fate as Boracay.

Surigao del Norte congressman Francisco Jose Matugas, who also graced the affair, also disclosed that Siargao already has an ordinance for total plastic ban, currently implemented in the towns of Pilar and Sta Monica. The rest of the island is expected to follow suit anytime soon.

Posted in Lifestyle