MANILA – Environment Secretary Gina Lopez on Thursday criticized tourism models that displace the poor, like in Boracay, as she pushed for sustainable and equitable development of tourist spots.
Boracay, one of the country’s most popular islands, may be worth billions of pesos, but swank hotels displaced its original inhabitants, Lopez told a business forum.
“I don’t like Boracay… But the people who live in Boracay, where are they? They call them kulot (curly). They’re somewhere there in the mountain,” she said.
“I don’t believe in that kind of tourism,” she added.
Lopez cited Ugong Rock in Palawan, where she helped local boatmen get started before she joined government.
The boatmen earn P10,000 a week, working just 3 hours a night and the whole community has P5 million in savings, Lopez said.
“Economic growth is not genuine if it doesn’t result in social justice,” she said.
Lopez said gross domestic product and the stock market are “not indices of economic growth” and she would prefer the “gross national happiness” goal of Bhutan, a tiny Himalayan kingdom.
“We are not material beings so to take on matter as the sum of life is not taking into consideration all the other much more important aspects of our existence so happiness for me is a good way to go and judging from Bhutan, they’re not doing badly,” she said.
“The foundation of genuine economic growth is love. If you love genuinely, you won’t hurt the other,” she said.