This interview with Susan Santos de Cardenas of the Philippines is the first of a special series featuring board members of the recently founded Asian Ecotourism Network. A sustainability and ecotourism champion, Susan shares with us her view on the current state of sustainable tourism in the Philippines, what motivated her to establish The Coron Initiative, and the main challenges regarding the sustainable development of tourism in a country known for its rich biodiversity and picturesque islands.
- How Peru’s eco-pioneer Inkaterra woke Susan’s interest in sustainable tourism;
- Why Susan established the Coron Initiative (TCI), and its purpose;
- The effectiveness of national policies in the Philippines to support sustainability and ecotourism;
- What it takes for sustainable tourism development in destinations, and why many destinations in the Philippines fail at it;
- Susan’s career advice to newcomers or recently graduated students;
- The current state of tourism in the Philippines, regarding sustainability.
Susan, do you remember what first attracted you to sustainable tourism? What got you inspired?
I was first attracted to sustainable tourism when I started to work with Inkaterra, Peru’s eco-pioneer and conservation leader since 1975, long before ecotourism became “trendy”. I was inspired by Inkaterra founder & CEO Jose Koechlin, who is a supporter and promoter of scientific research for biodiversity as the baseline of profitable conservation, education and economic growth of local communities.
With motivation and enhanced knowledge gained through participation in relevant workshops, I was able to build my personal brand to work on green solutions to global issues – ultimately, from policies to practices, for grassroots growth underlining cultural, community and ecological legacy.