Panglao resort banks on sustainability to boost tourism 2
The Bellevue Resort offers 'the luxury of sanctuary' in Panglao, Bohol. (📷: Handout)

Panglao luxury resort banks on sustainability to boost tourism

The Bellevue Resort, the lone five-star resort in Panglao, advocates for sustainability to spur the island's tourism growth.
Bryan Reyes, ABS-CBN News | Feb 10 2024

The Bellevue Resort (TBR), the lone five-star resort in Panglao, Bohol, advocates sustainability to spur the island's tourism growth.

This, as it “sets the benchmark” for other establishments in the area, managing director Dustin Chan said in an interview with ABS-CBN News.

Though he admits challenges in making business sustainable, he believes green initiatives work not just for the resort but the community, too.

“There’s no competition when it comes to environmental protection, everyone has to do it. Hindi naman ‘yong, ‘O, we’re doing it, we don’t want other establishments to do it.’”

TBR, the sole destination property of The Bellevue Hotels & Resorts, has yet to hit its pre-pandemic arrival numbers in 2019, admits Chan.

“The numbers are still half of what it was if you look at the actual arrivals. If you compare 2019 to 2023, it’s actually a bit less than half,” he said.

“We need to take care of our place because we depend so much on it. People come to Bohol because it’s beautiful, the beaches are beautiful, the geoparks are beautiful. What’s the purpose of coming here if everything is polluted?” Chan adds.

Sustainability is a standard in the resort’s daily operations, especially since it also aims for resiliency.

A few weeks before its first anniversary in 2013, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck Bohol. And in December 2021, Super Typhoon Odette passed through the province, killing over a hundred.

“Whatever we have now, it works because of many failures and adjustments that we had to do on our end,” resort manager Andrew Fernandes, who is also a conservationist, said in a separate interview.

TBR, an ASEAN Green Hotel hall-of-famer, was launched in 2012 and is a pioneer in local environmental protection programs. Their green initiatives include recycling, sewage treatment, sustainable farming, and coastal cleanups. 

They also maintain a one-hectare marine protected area – later renamed Bellevue Reef in honor of their conservation efforts. They also spearheaded the establishment of a giant clam husbandry off Momo Beach, which now has around 300 clams.

"The number one thing we’re always after is continuity. Ayaw namin ningas-kugon. We really monitor it. ‘Di lang namin ginagawa, binabantayan din namin siya. We police ourselves. Siguro as the only five-star resort in the island, we’re also held to a higher degree, to a higher standard, so we have to self-police and self-regulate the most. Bawal matulog sa pansitan," Fernandes added.

He said the resort has a sewage treatment plant and practices waste segregation but airs concern about gaps in local solid waste management.

“It’s a [local government unit] thing to segregate, which we all do. The problem is the government doesn’t have enough space. They all clump it together. It’s really sad kasi kami nag-e-effort…. Even our biomass kami na nag-process e kasi nahahalo lang siya e… kaya kami we really do our own, kami na nagga-grind, kami na nagpe-fertilizer... By taking care of ourselves, we actually also find a way to help others.”

For his part, managing director Chan hopes that the LGU will invest in solid waste management and make access to water and electricity cheaper.

“I hope the government would support more on the basic needs of the island like sanitary, waste management because if we forget all of these things, if in the future it’s not sustainable, what’s the reason for people to come visit beautiful islands if it’s no longer beautiful?”

Beachfront of The Bellevue Resort (📷: Handout)
Beachfront of The Bellevue Resort (📷: Handout)

Chan believes that Panglao’s tourism is “booming” so the government must fund relevant infrastructure while establishments prepare for the arrival of more travelers.

“That’s the usually increasing problem when a place becomes developed... when there’s more progress, there’s more pollution," he said.

“We’re putting solar panels. Not 100 percent, but we try to do sustainability efforts as much as we can; less use of plastic, less carbon footprint, we invest in good sewage treatment plant, so we don’t produce toxic wastes,” Chan added.

Meanwhile, resort manager Fernandes explained that sustainability should be holistic: “The infrastructure must match the personnel and the system.”

He said it must start with a “top-notch sewage system facility.” He’s proud of their water station with filtering system, unlike other resorts which, he said, import water. 

“Kami may sariling water refilling station. We have our own deep well that’s sustainably sourced. We have two of those.”

Infinity pool of The Bellevue Resort (📷: Handout)
Infinity pool of The Bellevue Resort (📷: Handout)

He said all their efforts align with Bohol’s green policies, especially since the Central Visayas destination “is one of the pioneering provinces in the country that was really gearing towards eco-bags, reusable straws, and paper straws, etc.”

Bohol, the 10th largest island in the Philippines, is among the pioneers of local ecotourism, evident in its designation as the country’s first Global Geopark.

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Global Geoparks are "single, unified geographical areas where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education, and sustainable development."

According to a report by UNESCO, “sustainable tourism practices have not been fully included into regional policies and business practices” before the pandemic.

The UN agency encourages “nature-based solutions and integrating biodiversity into recovery plans” in the post-pandemic setup of tourism businesses as they believe that “[t]ourism can help achieving greener economies and more resilient communities.”


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