‘Greenfluencers Forum’ educate vloggers of envi-conscious tourism promos

May. 18, 2024
IDIS Executive Director Atty. Mark Peñalver during the GREENfluencers: A Forum on Advocating for Sustainable Eco-Tourism on May 15, 2024. (Photo from IDIS’ Facebook page)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Vloggers (video bloggers) are plenty in Davao City who promote various spots for its scenic views to gain engagements and boost local tourism.  

As such, concerns about knowing their role in promoting the care for these local tourist areas prompted the environment group Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS) to engage them in being responsible promoters.

IDIS met with vloggers last May 15, Wednesday, in a forum dubbed ‘Greenfluencers Forum”, held at the Davao City Investment and Promotions Center, to discuss environmental laws and approaches in their vlogs that promote sustainable ecotourism. 

“We aim to conduct this forum to first educate participants on national and local laws, particularly about our watershed code and zoning ordinance,” said Yvette Balayon-Mahinay, knowledge management officer of IDIS.

Vloggers found the forum informative and empowering as they need to do more.

Jemuel Olantao, who handles Vlog ni Jem where he promotes spots in his community in Barangay Tawan-Tawan in Baguio District, said that although he has been coordinating with barangay officials to shoot content for his daily blogs, he admits lacking knowledge of local laws on environment protection. 

A portion of Barangay Tawan-Tawan lies within the Watershed Protection conservation area and is identified as the “environmentally critical area” classified by the city government.

“As a vlogger, I feel guilty with what I had done. As I reside in Baguio District, I do make vlogs and use drone shots to show and invite tourists to come to our place. But this has an effect, especially when many people come to our place, and leave lots of waste which affects our ecosystem and our nature. Why do I say I feel guilty, because as an influencer and content creator I am one of the reasons why garbage has reached our mountains,” Olantao said in Cebuano. 

The idea of engaging with vloggers came after the New Year when hundreds of people flocked to the Panigan-Tamugan watershed after vloggers promoted the place, which is actually a restricted area since the watershed supplies the city’s water. Local volunteers and IDIS reported they picked up seven sacks full of single-use plastics, bottles, and other wastes left by visitors.

Arturo Ensalada of the group Viajero Davao Hikers said the forum made him realize there were places they had hiked that were actually protected zones under the local watershed laws.

“Mas maayo gyud unta if naay coordination ang mga local barangays ug ang local government sa pagprovide sa amoa sa mga lists sa need namo icomply ug sundon kay honestly karon ra mi kabalo kabahin aning naa diay mga areas na dili pwedi adtuon, (It would be good if we have coordination with local barangays and local government to provide us with lists that we need to comply, because honestly we just found out there are places that we shouldn’t go)” said Ensalada.

The Viajero Davao Hikers League was started during the COVID-19 pandemic where they feature their hiking and mountaineering activities to promote wellbeing and mental health.

The forum, which was co-organized by the Davao City Council, also prompted Councilor Al Ryan Alejandre to suggest that the city’s vlogging community organize a partnership with the City Tourism Office (CTO) to monitor and develop guidelines in promoting local city tourism spots.

“That is a good start in the vlogger and the digital influencers to also be clustering so that ang mandate that we will be formulating you will also be with us to impose and at the same time promote whatever products and services that we will be having for tourism,” said Jennifer Romero, head of the CTO.

CTO also wants to re-activate the Barangay Tourism Council and strengthen regulations and ordinances to boost the city’s tourism efforts. (davaotoday.com)

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