A site should adhere to the principles of a sustainable, ecologically friendly, and responsible tourism as mentioned above. There is no perfect site, especially in the Philippines, as it is difficult to regulate all facilities, services, and activities in a destination. However, there are usually individual businesses that are trying hard to up the standards of being a responsible business.  A "yes" answer to these questions, which is nowhere complete, will help you decide if a facility or service you are using is indeed responsible.

  • Is the facility reducing their carbon footprint by using solar panels, practicing waste segregation, treating grey water, and avoiding the use of non-biodegradable materials such as plastics?

  • Are the supplies in the facility locally sourced and do they adhere to sustainable harvesting if taken from the wild such as fish/seafood and wild crops?

  •  Does the business employ locals?

  • Does the area have community-run businesses and activities?

  • Are the activities and tours sensitive and appropriate to the local culture aside from promoting it?

  • Does the facility provide the proper information about the local biodiversity, environment, and people as part of the briefing and tour interpretation?

  • Does the facility or service regulate activities in the area under some policy, law or guidelines which are effectively enforced?

  • Is there any certification or accreditation given in the area that creates a better standard to be sustainable?

  • Is there a conscious effort to prevent any maltreatment of animals, placing wild animals in captivity, or changing their natural behavior and habitats ?

  • Are development and structures in the area considering natural land and seascapes in their design and construction?

  • Are there fees charged to support local groups and protect the area, particularly wild animals and habitats?

  • Are the activities allowing you to learn more about the local culture, biodiversity, and environment?

  • Are the souvenirs sold in the area made of sustainably-sourced natural materials that promote local crafts and businesses?


-Dr. AA Yaptinchay, Director of Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines

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‚ÄčOn The Brink : Uncharted Waters 


ABOUT Responsible ecotourism


Is there a criteria for selecting eco-friendly destinations?

  I PLEDGE TO BE A RESPONSIBLE ECOTOURIST.    When visiting a destination, I will make only positive    impacts on my surrounding environment and                respect wildlife, nature and local culture.

Being a responsible tourist means being sensitive to the site you are visiting. It involves causing no harm, in any way, or negative impact to the culture, environment, and local enterprise. As a matter of fact, your visit should benefit a site by the cultural exchange, stimulating business, and enhancing the protection of the environment. These are all inherent in the term ecotourism , that if not practiced, negates the prefix eco. With the degradation of the natural world at an alarming rate, we cannot have another being the cause of the world's demise. It is a growing movement that we hope keeps on picking up.


How can I, as an individual, promote responsible ecotourism?

Dr. AA Yaptinchay has been involved in marine biodiversity conservation in the Philippines for over 20 years. He is the director and founder of the conservation NGO, Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines after having worked with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Biodiversity Management Bureau and WWF-Philippines as their Species Conservation Program Director. He has a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree from University of the Philippines and a Master's Degree in Aquatic Tropical Ecology from Bremen University, Germany. He sits on the board of a few other NGOs including Balyena.org, Reefcheck Philippines, CAPE Foundation, and Responsible Tourism Philippines. He is a member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature - Species Specialist Group on dugongs, an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of the Philippines in Los Banos, and sits on the editorial board of The Philippine Journal of Fisheries. He also runs a travel agency (Kirschner Travel Manila) and a veterinary clinic (Beterinaryo sa Fort) businesses.

with conservationist and ecotourism expert dr. aa yaptinchay



Support   sustainable tourism in the Philippines

Q & A

Most sites are still far from being sustainable. It is better to choose the right facilities, activities, and destinations that will cause less harm to the environment. You can also help by being a responsible traveler yourself! You can do this by bringing your own reusable bottle, not buying individually plastic wrapped products or sachets, turning off the power when leaving your room, using your towel for more than three days, always carrying a reusable cotton bag, using coral friendly sunscreen, etc.  You also need to follow regulations and guidelines with any activity at your destination. And when you are convinced that your travel experience was responsible, promote the destination, facility, and/or activity to your friends and family or request similar journeys from your travel agent. It is all part of your transition to sustainable living. 

Please join On the Brink: Uncharted Waters in supporting a joint administrative order to standardize marine wildlife interaction guidelines in the Philippines.This order, drafted by the country's Department of Tourism (DOT)  the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Agriculture (DA) and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), is crucial to the protection of marine life and the continued development of sustainable ecotourism in the Philippines.


Tourism is one of the world's biggest industries. Although its economic impact to a certain destination can be deemed as positive most of the time, its effects on nature-based destinations cannot be and should be given the most importance. With our natural environment continually being under threat from climate change, pollution (noise, waste, light), exploitation under overfishing and wildlife trade, and encroachment of the last remaining natural areas, we should not allow the tourism industry to add to these problems. We need to seek a balance where the industry could exist without damaging cultures and environments. This can be done through sustainable tourism and responsible traveling. Your impact on a site needs  to be nothing else but positive. We, as tourists, have the power to shape the tourism industry through our preferences and the way we travel, because in the end, it is your responsibility to care for the earth for future generations to enjoy as we do today.

What does it mean to be a responsible ecotourist?

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