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UPLB bats for ‘edutourism’ with experiential learning program

CALAMBA CITY (PIA) – The University of the Philippines-Los Baños (UPLB) is setting its sights on becoming the country’s leading edutourism destination through its pioneering program Promoting Agroforest Stewardship and Ecological Observations (PASEO).

Launched on World Tourism Day on September 27, PASEO is a collaborative effort between UPLB and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

According to UPLB Chancellor Dr. Jose Camacho, Jr., PASEO is aligned with the university's edutourism thrust and CHED's Study in the Philippines (StudyPH) program, an initiative that positions the Philippines as a regional and global education hub with a focus on increasing the number of international learners in the country.

"Through PASEO, we envision the UPLB as an edutourism destination. In other countries, universities attract tourists and become top tourist destinations," Camacho said.

PASEO offers unique educational tours centered around four themes: biodiversity and forestry, agriculture and science, technopreneurship, and culture and the arts. It aims to showcase not only the natural beauty of the campus but also the scientific discoveries and products of UPLB's research.

The UPLB College of Forestry and Natural Sciences provides a gateway to the Mount Makiling Forest Reserve. (PB/UPLB)

The school chancellor said: “It’s not just about nature, its bounty, and the mountains, it’s also the things we offer in UPLB: the science, the technology, [and] the products that we create through the science we studied in producing these goods, these outputs, and these products.”

Administered by the University of the Philippines-Los Baños, the Mount Makiling Forest Reserve is home to a variety of endemic, indigenous, and exotic species. (PB/UPLB)

At the heart of the PASEO Program is a trip app that allows visitors to make reservations, explore destinations, and make payments. The app also provides information about the history and background of each landmark, enhancing the visitors' experience.

UPLB expects that PASEO will contribute to promoting tourism to the university and its surrounding attractions, driven by so-called revenge tourism, a term used to describe the surge in tourism after periods of travel restrictions.

Lawyer Lily Freida Milla, Director for International Affairs Office, said CHED provided initial funding to jumpstart the program after reviewing UPLB’s activities and targets. 

“We really see UPLB as leading in this sphere of creating universities as a destination [focusing] around the theme of stewardship of our environment. We love the value of that,” Milla added. 

Meanwhile, Vice Chancellor for Community Affairs Roberto Cereno sees CHED's edutourism program as an opportunity for UPLB to enhance its visitor management. 

He said prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the campus received almost half a million visitors a year but no proper documentation of the arrivals was made. 

“With PASEO, the UPLB aims to develop a more systematic approach to enhance the visitor experience,” Cereno added.

Cereno added: "Tourism nowadays focuses on experiential learning, not just arrivals. By providing a quality experience on campus, we hope that visitors will develop a fondness for UPLB." (PB/PIA-4A)

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Patricia Bermudez


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