El Nido Resorts (ENR) in Bacuit Bay, Palawan, was recently recognized as a global trailblazer in sustainable tourism when it won last April 9 the World Travel and Tourism Council’s (WTTC’s) Tourism for Tomorrow Awards in Abu Dhabi.
El Nido Resorts Activities – Kayaking at Bacuit Bay
The awards, which were part of WTTC’s global summit, highlight the efforts of travel and tourism businesses and destinations around the world to successfully balance their commitments to profitability, to uphold environmental best practices and to benefit the local communities that host them. El Nido Resorts, which is owned by Ten Knots Development Corporation (TKDC) was one of four winners chosen from among 133 applications from 46 countries.
WTTC is a forum of business leaders in the travel and tourism industry. As part of its mission to raise awareness for its industry as a major economic contributor all over the world, it organized the Tourism for Tomorrow awards. Winners this year– including a project highlighting the attractions of the Balkans and conservation efforts in South Africa– are bound to enjoy unprecedented visibility in the world market.
Bacuit from Pangu peak
Named the Community Benefit Award winner, TKDC’s El Nido Resorts was cited for “demonstrating the power of tourism to address poverty alleviation, improve local livelihood and protect the cultural and natural heritage for future generations.” Composed of four eco-resorts in the islands of Miniloc, Lagen, Pangulasian and Apulit, ENR was recognized for employing and training the locals that staff its properties. Palawan residents mostly from the municipality of El Nido make up 90 per cent of its organization.
Through constant training, the staff learn and appreciate environmental best practices in addition to the high level of skills required by Ten Knots’ hospitality business catering largely to global travelers. They also become knowledgeable about the spectrum of bird species, fish and marine invertebrates that thrive in Bacuit Bay. According to Mariglo Laririt, Ten Knots Development director for sustainability, their eagerness to point out the beauty of their natural environment rubs off on guests. She observes: “Guests feel the warmth and sincerity of the staff who proudly point to evidences of diversity all around them. The effect is like that of someone welcoming you proudly into his home.”
Sunset view from the resort
The pride of place demonstrated by the ENR staff combined with high service levels have resulted in ENR’s garnering an exceptional 95 per cent guest satisfaction rating. Guests who leave with positive impressions easily endorse the resort to peers and friends and create a buzz that has propelled TKDC’s El Nido Resorts’ growth from two resorts in the ‘80s to four properties – each offering unique amenities and attractions.
Turnover at ENR is low and many second-generation employees now work side-by-side with their parents at the resorts. Those who leave usually set up their own enterprises such as recycling facilities that service the resorts, providing boat transfers to guests or growing vegetables that are used in the resort restaurants. Costas Christ, chairman of the TTA judges, noted that as one of 2013’s four winners, El Nido Resorts demonstrated “that doing well and doing good is not only possible, but represents the future of business success in an emerging and greener global economy.”
Laurent Lamasuta, president and CEO of Ten Knots Development Corporation, which counts Ayala Land, Inc. and Asian Conservation as principals, related that ENR’s win could inspire other Philippine destinations and tourism firms to see that “a tourism business can be successful while embracing sustainable principles and contribute to the development of the local communities they operate in.”