Apart from the tourist spots, the Gawad Kalinga villages in Negros Island are being eyed as the sites for world class social tourism in the Philippines.
Thomas Graham, co-founder of Make a Difference (MAD) Travel, said the country has a potential to become a world class social tourism destination, a new tourism feat that highlights fun, fulfillment and learning though homestays, local tours and immersive experiences in marginalized and rural communities.
In his motivational talk with local tourism officers Tuesday, he said that aside from the beaches and highland adventures the Philippines can offer, what sets the new brand of tourism are the experiences a tourist can gain including the “bayanihan” (spirit of communal unity), “walang iwanan” (nobody gets left behind) and “kapatiran” (brotherhood) that are intrinsically natural to Filipino communities.
Selected GK sites nationwide are already catering to tourists, including some sites in Negros Island, Tony Altonaga, of GK Negros, said. He added that more communities are also preparing to partner with MAD Travel.
“Tourism can be a tool to bring people who normally do not come together,” Graham said, adding that the tourism brand is geared more towards the younger demographic who seek connection and authentic community experience.
He said the social tourism with GK Villages is the perfect shore for travelers who want to venture off the tourist trail.
“We create impact by supporting the poorest rural areas which are often the most beautiful,” he said. Graham's visit in Bacolod is part of a series of motivational talks across the country.*KBC
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