More opportunities for Philippine tourism in the global market are likely to open up following the inclusion of El Nido Resorts, the cluster of eco-resorts in Palawan, as one of 12 finalists worldwide in the 2013 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards (TTA), one of the most prestigious and highest accolades in the global travel and tourism industry.
Besting 133 other applications from destinations and businesses from more than 46 countries on six continents, the four eco-resorts in the municipalities of El Nido and Taytay that carry the El Nido brand was nominated for the Community Benefit Award. It is one of only three finalists in this category. Other categories in the awards aimed at recognizing best practices in sustainable tourism are: Destination Stewardship Award, Conservation Award and Global Tourism Business Award. El Nido Resorts was also a TTA finalist in 2007.
Organized by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), a forum of business leaders including multinational corporations, airlines, hotel chains and the like, the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards is deliberated on by 15-20 judges representing a wide range of professional backgrounds and expertise in the industry. Three finalists are shortlisted for each category with the final four to be announced in April at the WTTC’s 13th Global Summit in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The winners benefit from outstanding international media exposure.
One of El Nido Resorts’ four destinations, Pangulasian Island, was also recently named by Conde Nast Traveller, Travel+Leisure, and The New York Times as one of the must-visit destinations in 2013 indicating keener interest in the Philippines following its economic upsurge.
The municipality of El Nido is a small archipelago of 45 islands. In 1981, Ten Knots Development Corporation established Miniloc Island Resort within the archipelago. A second resort with 51 rooms was constructed in 1998 in Lagen Island, while the third was opened in 2010 on Apulit island, which is in the municipality of Taytay, and has 50 rooms. The fourth resort with 42 villas on Pangulasian Island opened its doors a few weeks ago.
Laurent Lamasuta, president of Ten Knots Development Corporation, explains the company’s commitment to environmental protection: “We safeguard the vital resources upon which our business is founded. In so doing, we create long-term value for our shareholders and our host communities.”
The group of resorts has been operating for the past 30 years and proof of its commitment to sustainability is the fact that snorkeling in Miniloc Island, where its oldest property is located, remains a spectacular showcase of biodiversity.
Mariglo Laririt, El Nido Resorts’ director for sustainability, observes: “That can only have been made possible by the fact that we have a well-maintained sewage treatment plant and a solid waste program that is uncompromising. That is also because we have well-trained nature guides who steer snorkelers’ fins away from the fragile corals while sharing with them scientific names.”
Moreover, the harmonious relationship between the operators of the four eco-resorts and of the locals “has enabled us to continue with business unhindered, purchasing, recruiting and promoting from among them,” she says. Ninety percent of all the employees are locals and turnover rate at the resort has remained low.
All employees likewise go through a program on environmental conservation called Be GREEN (Guard, Respect, Educate El Nido). This same program has been adopted by some of the local elementary and high schools. Better yet, El Nido Resorts supervisors are required to run programs for locals on food and beverage, kitchen and housekeeping skills among others. Although not all trainees are hired by El Nido, participants get a training certificate issued by local NGO partner El Nido Foundation thus, increasing their chances of employment in the other resorts in the area.
Some years ago, El Nido Resorts made a decision to offer a more sustainable menu to guests, according to its website www.elnidoresorts.com. This meant using as many local organically-grown ingredients as possible to contribute to the growth of the local economy. Today, as much as 58 percent of all ingredients used by the resorts are sourced from locals.
Known in the province of Palawan to have pioneered in island resorts development, El Nido Resorts’ standards has become over the years a template that has been acknowledged by the local government as well as other resort operators.
For inquiries and bookings, visit www.elnidoresorts.com.