Beating Plastic Pollution from the Tourism Sector

According to a report by UN Environment, eight million tonnes of plastic are being washed to the world’s oceans every year and have affected not just marine biodiversity, but also communities and wildlife. The COVID-19 pandemic has also aggravated the plastic pollution due to an increase in the use and disposal of single-use items such as medical face masks, plastic gloves, hand sanitizer bottles, and food packaging. Eighty percent of tourist destinations are located in coastal areas, which makes the tourism sector even more susceptible to the tides of plastic pollution.  
Tips on How to Travel Safely without Single-Use Plastics
  In light of these factors, the Department of Tourism (DOT), through its sustainability campaign Save Our Spots, has collaborated with the Philippine Center for Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development, Inc. (PCEPSDI), through the Transforming Tourism Value Chains project, in cooperation with UN Environment Programme (UNEP), in creating an awareness campaign to reduce single-use plastics in the tourism sector while keeping in mind health and safety protocols. The key messages of the campaign are aligned with the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative (GTPI), which seeks to unite the tourism sector behind a common vision to address the root causes of plastic pollution. The GTPI enables businesses, governments and other tourism stakeholders to take concerted action, leading by example in the shift towards circularity in the use of plastics.  
Tips on How to Reduce Single-Use Plastics in Hotels
  The campaign, funded by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety under their International Climate Initiative, is designed for three key audiences in mind: (1) hotel managers and procurement officers, (2) hotel staff, and (3) tourists and guests. It seeks to encourage the mindset that reduction of unnecessary plastic packaging is possible, while ensuring the health and safety of hotel staff and guests, by developing robust sanitization procedures, promoting digital and contactless transactions, and inviting guests to be part of the change. Other organizations that took part in the campaign are: Clean our Oceans Project (CoOp), Reef World Foundation, Philippine Hotel Owners Association, Inc., and World Wide Fund for Nature – Philippines (WWF-Philippines).  
Group Photo of the Responsible Tourism through Plastic Upcycling and Waste Management online training
To further encourage the hospitality sector to take action on plastic pollution amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, a training webinar entitled “Responsible Tourism through Plastic Upcycling and Waste Management” was also hosted on December 15, 2020. Almost 70 participants from different sectors – government, academe, and private sector – attended the training webinar. Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat from the Department of Tourism also showed her support by welcoming the participants and delivering the opening remarks, stating that “with so many of our sights being close to the water, we must restart and revive our campaign to save our Spots and protect them from plastic pollution.” Speakers from CoOp and WWF-Philippines then enlightened participants about existing plastic waste management issues in the country, and how these pose a threat to the country’s marine biodiversity and conservation. They also showed how the COVID-19 pandemic has been affecting such issues, and introduced ways on how tourism businesses can operate more responsibly and minimize unnecessary usage of disposable plastic packaging during the pandemic.  For more information about this campaign and the training webinar, or any interest in partnering with the TVC project, kindly email TVC’s Project Officer Kiko Velhagen at or   __________________________________________________ Co-organizers of the training webinar:  Ms. Anna Varona Founder, Clean Our Oceans Project Ms. Pauline Ramo Department of Tourism – Branding and Marketing Communications