by Imelda V. Abano

PUERTO PRINCESA—As foreign and local tourists become more environmentally aware nowadays, many hotels and beach resorts are going green, promoting responsible environmental management while enhancing their image.
Hotels and resorts, many of them small and medium-sized businesses, make up a huge part of the booming Philippine tourism industry. But tourism contributes greatly to the stress on the country’s environment—the beaches, rain forests, reefs, fish and other biodiversity species—are at high risk from global warming and pollution.

“Going green is an enormous challenge for the tourism industry. We have been encouraging hotels and resorts to introduce measures designed to lessen the impact of their operations and practices on the environment. And we are seeing positive results,” said Puerto Princesa tourism officer Rebecca Labit.

Labit said that with the increasing number of tourists in the country, new hotels and resorts are springing up faster, especially in Puerto Princesa. Incorporating a number of ecologically sound and clean-energy initiatives into their business practices help in strengthening green tourism industry as well as making a sustainable environment, she said.

A zero-carbon resort (ZCR)

GOING green can lead to gold for the hotel and resort industry. Not only does it save them money in the long run; it appeals to guests who are increasingly environmentally conscious.

Daluyon Beach and Mountain Resort owner and entrepreneur Ruben “Butch” Tan has picked up the challenge to take this “greening” effort to a new tourism level, setting the standard for green resorts in the country.

He said going green can improve their business’ bottom line, increase the value of their property and help retain customers and staff.

“Being green means implementing energy-saving measures, using water-saving equipment and other environment-friendly techniques. It means management, staff and guests are healthier,” Tan said.

Opened to the public in 2007, the resort is located in barangay Cabayugan some 80 kilometers northwest of Puerto Princesa in the white-sand beaches of Sabang village. The resort has been dubbed as the model for the Zero-Carbon Resorts (ZCR) Project under the European Union’s Switch-Asia program which targets more than 500 hotels and resorts in the Philippines.

The ZCR project enables resorts like the Daluyon Beach and Mountain Resort to provide energy-efficient, cost-effective and sustainable services by making use of locally available carbon dioxide neutral resources and green technologies.

In order for a resort to garner a zero-carbon label, it must practice three steps: reduce energy consumption, replace inefficient appliances and equipment, and redesign buildings into more self-sufficient, carbon-neutral structures.

Tan said he is proud to be the first resort owner to sign and implement the ZCR concept in Puerto Princesa. There are now more than 28 establishments that are certified ZCR in the city. Zero-carbon resort project has also been introduced in some major tourists destinations such as in Banaue, Bohol and Cagayan de Oro.

Certified as a zero-carbon resort in 2010, the Daluyon uses a number of sustainable-energy techniques and practices, including solar power and low energy LED lights; natural lighting via solar tube tubular skylights; motion sensors for lighting; solar-powered water heaters; rainwater harvesting; natural ventilation; anaerobic wastewater treatment; waterless urinals; low chlorine pool conditioning; no pesticides and insecticides used in the gardens; utilizing local organic items; and the resort was designed to minimize the overall impact to the natural environment.

Tan, who has been active in promoting sustainable and eco-friendly hotels and resorts in Palawan, believes that with the advent of increasingly innovative green technologies, entrepreneurs are now more than ever able to marry business and environment.

“We are implementing responsible tourism on our end by going green. There is a growing interest in energy conservation and eco-friendly habits which we have been doing for years now. Most resort owners conform to evolving environmental standards and green practices like we do,” Tan told the BusinessMirror in an interview.

Tan said that environmentally conscious policies and practices are in place for daily operations in the three-hectare property. It was built and furnished with eco-friendly materials and utilizes water-conserving fixtures and energy-efficient lighting.

“Comfort, relaxation and luxury have not been sacrificed to reach the environmental goals of the resort. Guests will be amazed that, in fact, they are staying in a resort which is implementing low or zero carbon,” said Adonis Bruce Melgar, Daluyon’s sales and reservations officer.

Melgar said the resort has eight luxurious Asian-inspired villas with 16 rooms that can accommodate 150 guests. It uses native materials like bamboo, lumber and cogon. Solar panels are installed on the rooftops of each villa. All rooms have large windows to allow natural light and air to flow.

Daluyon’s swimming pool, which makes use of salt chlorinator to clean the pool, utilizes blue quartzon instead of the conventional floor tiles to maintain the water’s warm temperature.

Louver ventilations are also installed at the generator power house, kitchen and staff house at the resort to allow natural lights to come in. Waterless urinals help in the resort’s effort to reduce water consumption. Low-cost water sprinkler and insulation at the resort’s function tent was also installed to cool the area.

With the resort’s proximity to the Puerto Princesa Underground River (about 10 minutes away), Tan said they plan to construct five new “green” villas to accommodate more guests.

As the country bids for the Underground River to be one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature, resort owners fear that there will be an influx of local and foreign tourists in the area. The Underground River is the official entry of the Philippines and is now placed second of the 28 finalists to the search.

“We have to expand to meet the needs of the tourists. It’s a nonstop thing for me to develop a green and sustainable concept of hotels and resort. It is easy to implement if you have the means and the will to implement it. I hope that other entrepreneurs and establishments would follow our ways,” Tan said.

Aside from the Daluyon Beach and Mountain Resort, Tan also transformed the Puerto Pension bed and breakfast, which he owns, into an eco-friendly establishment by using green technology and improving energy efficiency, thus, garnering a zero-carbon label in 2010.

The Pension, which started operating in 1993, uses green concepts such as rainwater collection and filtration use for bathroom use, installation of solar tubes, use of LED lamps, simple natural lighting techniques and ventilation, water consumption monitoring and use of indigenous materials like cogon, bamboo and lumber.

The implemented measures has enabled up to 40-percent savings in electricity and water consumption a year.

“Just the idea that these hotels and resorts are eco-friendly will encourage others to follow suit. At the end of the day, it will give you good financial results because as long as you use less energy, you have less costs and more savings,” Tan said.

Tan admits that while hotels and resorts are now embracing green concepts in running their businesses, strong support from the local government and the awareness of people in their responsibility to cut waste, reduce emissions and be eco-friendly are key to attain a sustainable environment.

“I think everybody is going in that direction and awareness of environmental issues is growing. For our part, we just keep on upgrading and re-inventing in a greener way as there are green technologies we can choose from. Being a responsible businessman and simultaneously caring for the environment is a good business sense,” Tan said.

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