Tuesday, September 1, 2009

3rd Site Visit: El Nido, Palawan, Philippines

Surrounded by majestic limestone cliffs dating back 250 million years, El Nido Resorts (ENR) have been operating in El Nido, northwest Palawan, Philippines, since 1981. A Protected Area, El Nido's vibrant coral reefs in pristine waters are home to over 800 fish species and thick forests are sanctuary to 100 bird species, most of which are endemic to Palawan.

As such, ENR takes environmental protection seriously. Integrated sewage treatment plants ensure that no raw sewage and greywater are discharged into sea. Final treated effluent is used for gardening and toilet flushing, while neutralised biological solids are used as fertilisers. This directly reduces consumption of water, which otherwise have to produced through energy-intensive desalination processes.

While desalinating plants were established to minimise sourcing from mainland El Nido, the company proactively protects three of El Nido watershed areas totalling 333 hectares through tree-planting, where voluntary contributions from guests go to tree nurseries and other activities for the upkeep of the watersheds.

Additional to other energy-saving strategies being implemented, solar panels were installed on three islands. In further reducing carbon emissions, while at the same time providing alternative livelihood to the communities, ENR have urged local farmers to adopt organic agriculture and responsible livestock rearing to cater to the increased percentage of local purchases by ENR, which currently stands at 56% from 20% last year.

Working with the community and local government in areas of scientific research in marine protection and rehabilitation, responsible purchasing policies, and law enforcement monitoring efforts, ENR's supervisors have gone to the ground to pride various skills training aimed at expanding the local pool of manpower for the resort, at the same time, enable participants find employment. 73% of ENR's workforce comes from El Nido and neighbouring villages within 50km of its operations. Except for one, the rest are from other regions of the Philippines.

With no hospital and only one doctor for more than 30,000 inhabitants in El Nido, ENR's full-time doctors render free medical consultation to targeted local communities twice a week, moving between villages to reach out to those who are remotely located.

By: Shafinaz Suhaimi (Palawan Philippines, 26 - 30 August 2009)

Special Note: El Nido Resorts (ENR) is one of the finalists for the 2009 Responsible Tourism Awards (Category: Mid Size). For more v-blogs on Responsible Tourism Awards 2009, please visit our YouTube Channel.

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