Balesin Island Club was awarded the 2nd place in the Innovation in Enterprises category, beating out 12 other finalists from around the world, in the recently held United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Tourism.
The awarding ceremony took place recently at the International Tourism Trade Fair in Madrid, Spain.
The UNWTO Awards recognize the work of individuals and organizations from around the globe that have positively contributed to the growth of the tourism sector.
The finalists of the event are selected for implementing projects that are in line with the standards set in the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Balesin Island Club, Alphaland Corporation's flagship project, has also been recognized as a Gold Partner in UNWTO's International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development in 2017.
Situated on a 500-hectare island off the Pacific coast of the Philippines, with 7.3 kilometers of pristine, white-sand beach, Balesin’s master plan was done by EcoPlan of Miami, Florida, USA, with sustainability in mind.
Balesin’s sustainability program, called the Three-Pillar Innovation initiative, focuses on Technological Innovation, Sustainable Consumption, and Human Empowerment—“A triple-bottom-line model of tourism that addresses the needs of people, planet, and profit,” explains Joshua Torres, Alphaland’s Director of Sustainability Projects.
Technological Innovation Recognizing the value of technology in its pursuit of sustainable tourism, Balesin has invested in a rainwater harvesting system wherein rainwater runoff from the 1,530-meter concrete runway is channeled into storage lagoons around the island.
The harvested rainwater is processed via ultrafiltration into potable drinking water and distributed throughout the resort.
Meanwhile, used water is recycled into Class A greywater and used in maintaining the Club's lush landscape during dry months.
Also, Balesin has invested in electric golf carts used as the main means of transport around the island in efforts of reducing carbon footprint and gasoline usage annually.
Sustainable Consumption Balesin maintains several agricultural plantations: an organic herb farm, a banana plantation, a fruit and vegetable farm, and a grape orchard.
Aside from this, it also practices aquaculture to supply its crab, sea bass, and freshwater fish used in its restaurants and maintains a free-range duck farm that produces eggs. Balesin incorporates sustainability practices in its day-to-day operations, especially in its waste management.
Non-biodegradable waste is collected by the Club to sell to local junk shops while biodegradable waste is turned into compost for plantation operations. Community Empowerment Ever since the Club's establishment, it has supported the local community through a multifaceted community development program.
The Club currently provides a total of 187 jobs for the local workforce, ranging from housekeeping to agricultural labor. It also invests in the next generation by maintaining a partnership with the Balesin Integrated School, whereby it donates materials and supplies for the students, awards university scholarship grants every year, and subsidizes teachers' salaries.
Aside from this, the Club regularly engages in stakeholder discussions with the local population, to provide a platform to bring up issues and concerns that will help improve island operations. Moreover, the Club actively campaigns for climate change awareness through marketing efforts and staff training for people to learn about their individual and collective roles in addressing this problem.
One of the Club's main campaign activities is its partnership with the Ocean Conservancy. Every year, Balesin participates in the International Coastal Cleanup program, wherein volunteers—Club members, guests, staff, and local residents—collect visible trash along the shoreline and segregate them into compostables, recyclables and non-recyclables.
“With Balesin’s silver prize in the UNWTO Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Tourism fortifying Alphaland’s commitment to sustainability, we’ll continue to innovate over the next few years through an investment in renewable energy, and champion the cause in the industry,” added Mr. Torres.