Ever since her term as Tourism secretary ended, the indefatigable Mina Gabor has never stopped putting up projects that help our tourism industry. The one that she is proudest of is her International School of Sustainable Tourism, the first Sustainable Tourism school in the Asia Pacific region which she put up to “educate the new generation of leaders.”
Established in 2010, the ISST aspires to become the premier tourism school in Asia-Pacific by 2025, dedicated to the education and technical training of manpower, to develop, promote, and viably operate Sustainable Tourism in the country and in our ASEAN neighbors.
It is also dedicated to the improvement of the lives of the people in the communities with ecological resources that need to be preserved and can be sustainably used for tourism.
If all our local government units were required to take the various courses in this school, the closure of Boracay wouldn’t have been necessary. It would do our country a lot of good if our Department of Tourism would encourage all LGUs to set aside a certain amount in their respective operating budgets, for them to enroll in the courses offered by ISST.
The school teaches residents of tourism destinations how to viably manage their communities so that it will earn for them income and livelihood in tourism. It also helps inculcate in tourism stakeholders and visitors the value of responsible tourism, where people interact with nature in a mutually beneficial relationship.
To ensure Sustainable Tourism, a visitor at any destination must always remind himself of this mantra: “Leave nothing but footprints...Take nothing but pictures...Kill nothing but time.”
With the participation of noted international lecturers and resource speakers, ISST offers intensive short-term courses, some as short as three days, while others are as long as three months. These courses are specifically designed for the executive, the working class, and the new graduate who are looking to expand their tourism business, or want to specialize in a certain facet of tourism, or improve their knowledge on a certain tourism aspect.
Since the school opened, it has already served hundreds of students, not only from the Philippines but also from our neighboring countries. Classes usually have a minimum of 50 students but, last September, the class on Farm Tourism had 98 students.
ISST’s original location, for the past eight years, was at Subic Freeport Zone, but Mina found a better, bigger location for the school. The new campus, which was inaugurated just the other day, is now at the James Yen Center, Km. 39, Aguinaldo Highway, Silang Cavite. It is inside the 52-hectare compound of the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction, fenced in by a greenbelt mini-forest, with crops, trees, and livestock serving as sustainable livelihood models.
Students of ISST may avail of any of the 64 guest rooms or five cottages at very affordable rates. Just like in regular hotels, the accommodations at the James Yen Center are air-conditioned, have hot and cold water and, most importantly, Internet connectivity.
Food and dining services are available five times a day and guests have a choice of buffet, plate service, or packed, in case they want to partake of their meal at the lawn, al fresco style. Prior arrangements may also be made for vegetarian and kosher meals.
For groups which might want to combine learning with team building sessions, the facility has an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a multi-purpose court, jogging paths and nature trails, table games, and a karaoke room. If they opt for something different, there is also the Camp James Yen where guests can pitch tents, have obstacle games, a bonfire, boodle fights, or go bird-watching.
As you can see, ISST’s new campus is the perfect setting for those who need to learn the basic tenets of Sustainable Tourism. This is why you see our hardworking and indomitable dear friend, Mina Gabor, grinning from ear to ear these days—her most important “baby” is bound to take off even higher and faster at its new location.
Sustainable Tourism will soon be a byword in our industry, thanks to Mina’s sustainable energy and her sustainable desire to succeed!
Your weekend chuckle
A man walks into a bar and says, “Give me a beer before the problem starts!” He drinks the beer and then orders another one saying again, “Give me a beer before the problem starts!” The bartender looks confused. This goes on for a while, and after the fifth beer, the bartender is totally confused and asks the man, “When are you going to pay for these beers?” The man answers, “Now the problem starts!”
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