Tourism stakeholders from Central Visayas and international experts converged in Cebu City yesterday to come up with standards that will strengthen the hotel industry’s resilience to climate change.
Melanie Ng, Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) president who was among those who attended yesterday’s meeting, cited the significance of the initiative, which is called the Hotel Resilient Initiative, to Cebu’s tourism industry.
UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction Asia and Pacific (UNISDR), which is one of the movers of the initiative, said that the Hotel Resilient Initiative aims to develop standards and tools for hotels and resorts that can be used to demonstrate disaster resilience to customers and clients while creating standardized approaches and market value.
It added that the standards will assist hotels in reducing business risk and the risk of tourists to natural and technological hazards.
There are three components of hotel resilient standards namely buildings, systems and management.
The building component includes site condition (whether there are unstable slopes, near bodies of water), distance to other buildings and external accessibility, among others.
Systems cover mechanisms for fire protection to emergency supply while the management component covers the hotel’s disaster and crisis management plans.
Yesterday’s meeting sought to gather feedback from the public and private stakeholders on a multihazard Risk Management Module.
Those involved in the initiative are the UNISDR, the Pacific Asia Travel Association and Deutsche Gesellschaft Internationale (GIZ) GmbH. Their aim is to improve climate and disaster risk management and to strengthen resilience in hotels and tourist destinations through the framework of the Global Initiative on Disaster Risk Management.
Ng said the island province of Cebu is strategically designed to be one of the best tourism destinations in the Philippines.
She said, “We are blessed with an abundance of natural resources, beautiful beaches, warm hospitality and beautiful smiles.”
However, she said, a single disaster would have the potential to cause damage and economic disruption, affect public and private investments in tourism destinations.
It also poses a threat to the lives of tourists, workers and surrounding communities, she added.
Ng said that while tourism is the region’s top economic driver, it is also one of the most exposed.
Rowena Montecillo, Department of Tourism in Central Visayas (DOT-7) director, recalled that typhoon Yolanda and the 7.2-magnitude earthquake were among the two major disasters that affected tourism in Cebu and Bohol, respectively.
Yolanda wiped out almost all of Bantayan Island in northern Cebu, popularly known for its white sand beaches frequented by travelers par ticularly during the Holy Week.
The earthquake, on the other hand, damaged tourist sites in Bohol such as the Chocolate Hills as well as several century-old heritage churches.
“This is a welcome (development). We are hoping that these standards will be accepted even if these aren’t from the government, although we are a part (of the process),” said Montecillo.
The disaster management module is expected to be available by October this year after a series of consultations in the rest of the country.
Following the dole out of the module, there will be a pilot for implementation in Central Visayas where local government units will be tasked to oversee that the standards in the manual are met by hotels within their respective areas.