The Role of the Youth in Sustainable Tourism Development
Entry #1 Global Youth Forum 2017: Writing Contest for Sustainable Tourism
Baguio City has been successfully branded as the summer capital of the Philippines. The growing demand for its cool climate and beautiful mountain scenery has sustained its tourism growth. It is also the melting pot of different culture, arts, and trade.
The booming tourism industry paved way for its rapid urbanization. The city which was originally designed to house a maximum of 30 000 inhabitants became a home to 317 000 people which was ten times its carrying capacity (NSCB, 2013).The overdevelopment of the city then resulted to water and land shortages, pollution, and road congestions.
During tourists’ seasons, the overpopulated city shares its natural resources to the tourists. This time, the residents are burdened with extreme water shortages as the city prioritizes its hotels and restaurants to meet tourist demand. In our case, during Panagbenga Festival, the original MWFS (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday) water schedule is usually reduce to W and F, making it harder for us to accomplish our day to day activities. Furthermore, the already problematic road networks and car to road ratio also worsens during tourists seasons as the visitors bring their own cars. The influx of vehicles also contribute to air, land, and water pollution.
As evident from the discussion above, unsustainable tourism practices devastate the lives of the host community. There has to be a balance between strong environmental protection program, social well-being and economic development to achieve the optimum benefits of urbanization (President’s Council on Sustainable Development, 1997). This tells us that we cannot compromise the natural resources and the quality of lives of the host community in the pursuit of economic development. The triple bottom line of sustainable tourism lies on its economic, social, and environmental components. Sustainability is crucial to minimize the negative impacts of tourism. It also encourages cultural sensibility and makes positive contribution to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage (Cape Town Declaration, 2002).
Marie Venus Tan, the director of DOT-CAR, encourages the locals and those who have adopted Baguio as their own to be the real stewards of reviving the city (Lacsamana, 2016). As part of the youth, we can be stewards of sustainable tourism by participating in community-based programs like the Rev-Bloom Campaign. The Rev-Bloom campaign encourages the residents to plant trees and do vertical gardening (Lacsamana, 2016). This activity is important to strengthen the city’s resilience. Furthermore, the host communities can also carry out initiatives such as collecting environmental fees to protect and mantain their natural resources. Let us consider the case of Mt. Yangbew as an example.