On the eve of Earth Day, I was fortunate enough to find myself on one of the most beautiful beaches on the planet, enjoying happy hour at El Nido Miniloc Resort, when a petite college-aged woman quietly started setting up a projector and a microphone. I watched as she proceeded to interrupt the crowd of honeymooners and vacationers to excitedly inform us about the resort’s eco-responsible efforts. She spoke over the clinking of glasses with tiny umbrellas, the various bubbling languages and laughter, and the whispering of newlywed couples, confidently wrapping up her presentation by inviting guests to join the staff the next morning for a variety of Earth Day celebrations, including a beach cleanup.
I was the only person to turn up at 8:15am, which was disappointing but not surprising. But that’s where the disappointment ended. Along with a boat full of resort staff, I got to pay my small respects to this particular, and particularly glorious, corner of Earth.
While taking part in these Earth Day activities was awesome, it was also a somber reminder of how far we have to go, especially as tourists. “Responsible tourism” is on the rise, but there needs to be a stronger demand for eco-sensitive resorts and tour companies, which starts with travelers knowing their own impacts, voicing their expectations to service providers, and voting with their wallets. Earth Day is a great start, but at the end of the day, it’s barely a drop in a very beautiful, but very deep bucket.
[Note: Kate’s visit to Palawan was sponsored by the Philippines Tourism Board.]