The sustainability efforts of Sipalay City — a top tourist destination in Negros Occidental — for a clean shoreline has been recognized as among the Green Destinations Top 100 Stories for 2023 during Tuesday’s unveiling ceremony in Tallin, Estonia.
Its good practice story, “Lakbayon (Steps) – Women Steps Toward Sustainability,” which is under the Thriving Communities Category, “focuses on how a simple strolling exercise by a women’s organization transformed into a movement that helped the community by solving the pollution problem at the Poblacion Beach”.
Supervising Tourism Officer Jerick Lacson said on Wednesday the recognition shows Sipalay’s commitment to sustainable tourism is bearing fruit and motivates the local government to reach more grassroots stakeholders to work harder for a sustainable community.
“We are very humbled by this international recognition. It reflects that what we have been doing in Sipalay City is worth acknowledging not only in the Philippines but in the whole world,” Lacson told the Philippine News Agency.
He added that the accolade goes to all the community members and residents of Sipalay City, especially the women and mother volunteers of the Lakbayon Women’s Beach Clean-up Volunteer Project, which was started under the Sipalay City Council for Women in year 2000.
Composed of volunteer single mothers, teenagers, students, wives of fishermen and senior citizens, the group has consistently been conducting cleanup drives that resulted in positive impacts in the environmental, social and economic areas of the city.
As of 2023, the volunteer project has already reached a total of 14,675 family member-beneficiaries in 11 barangays.
Also, it has significantly cleared and cleaned the 11-hectare beach and mangrove forest of waste which led to the declaration of 40 percent of the shoreline as a conservation area for sea turtles.
The beach is now the main beach tourism and recreational area of the city and venue for various local and national sports tourism activities.
Located in southern Negros, Sipalay, which has natural tourism attractions such as beaches, dive sites, islets, waterfalls and caves, continuously strives for sustainability to be the core of its tourism development.
Initiated by the Green Destinations Foundation based in The Netherlands, the annual Green Destinations Top 100 Stories competition started in 2014 to celebrate and promote 100 destinations as inspiring examples for other destinations, tour operators and visitors. (PNA)