National Ecotourism Strategy
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1 INTRODUCTION 6
1.1 STATUS OF THIS REPORT 6
1.2 CONTEXT AND BACKGROUND TO THE NATIONAL ECOTOURISM
1.3 DEFINITION OF ECOTOURISM 8
1.4 IMPERATIVES FOR URGENT ACTION 9
1.5 OBJECTIVES OF THE NATIONAL ECOTOURISM STRATEGY 10
1.6 THE PLANNING PROCESS TO DATE 10
1.7 FUTURE PLANNING STEPS 12
2 SITUATION ANALYSIS 13
2.1 POLICY CONTEXT 13
2.2 AGENTS OF DEVELOPMENT 15
2.3 NATURAL RESOURCE BASE 22
2.4 CULTURAL RESOURCE BASE 36
2.5 MARKET ANALYSIS 41
2.6 TOURISM MARKETING 53
2.7 TRANSPORT ISSUES 58
2.8 ACCOMMODATION ISSUES 61
2.9 SUPPORT SERVICES 63
2.10 IMPACTS 65
2.11 HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT 68
3 STRATEGIC FRAMEWORK 72
3.1 PUTTING THE PIECES TOGETHER 72
3.2 PRELIMINARY STRATEGIC FRAMEWORK 72
4 KEY ECOTOURISM SITES 77
4.1 THE KEY SITE IDEA 77
4.2 KEY SITE SELECTION PROCESS 77
4.3 KEY ECOTOURISM SITES AND BANNER SITES 79
4.4 EMERGING AND POTENTIAL KEY ECOTOURISM SITES 80
4.5 LINKING KEY ECOTOURISM SITES 81
5 ECOTOURISM MARKETING AND DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS 82
5.1 COORDINATING AND FOCUSSING GOVERNMENT EFFORTS 82
5.2 ACTION PLAN TO ESTABLISH AN ECOTOURISM MARKETING
5.3 ACTION PLAN TO ESTABLISH AN ECOTOURISM IN PROTECTED AREAS
6 STANDARDS AND ACCREDITATION 90
6.1 IMPERATIVES FOR INDUSTRY STANDARDS 90
6.2 ACCREDITATION IN ECOTOURISM 91
6.3 BENEFITS OF A JOINT APPROACH 91
6.4 ACTION PLAN FOR ESTABLISHING A PROGRAM ON STANDARDS AND
7 ECOTOURISM DEVELOPMENT FUND 93
7.1 OBJECTIVES OF THE FUND 93
7.2 ADMINISTRATIVE ARRANGEMENTS 93
7.3 ACTION PLAN FOR ESTABLISHING THE FUND 94
8 PHILIPPINES ECOTOURISM NETWORK 95
8.1 NETWORK OBJECTIVES 95
8.2 EVOLUTION OF THE ETWG 95
8.3 A CHANNEL FOR TECHNICAL SUPPORT 96
8.4 ACTION PLAN FOR ESTABLISHING THE PHILIPPINES ECOTOURISM
9 STAKEHOLDER COMMITMENTS 98
APPENDIX 1: ECOTOURISM RESOURCES AND RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
APPENDIX 2: KEY SITES AND KEY SITE DEVELOPMENT ISSUES 99
APPENDIX 3: KEY SITE ACTION PLANS 99
ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONS USED IN THE REPORT
ADB Asian Development Bank
ASEAN Association of Southeast Asian Nations
ASA Air Services Agreement
ASSET Accessing Support Services and Entrepreneurial Technology
BCOD Bureau of Cooperatives Development
BIMP-EAGA Brunei Indonesia Malaysia Philippines - East Asian Growth Area
CBCRM Community-Based Coastal Resource Management
CBBE Community and Barangay Business Enterprise
CBST Community Based Sustainable Tourism
CD Community Development
CDA Cooperatives Development Authority
CI Conservation International
CIDA Canadian International Development Agency
CITIES Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of
Wild Flora and Fauna
CO Community Organization
CPPAP Conservation of Priority Protected Areas Project
CRMP Coastal Resource Management Plan / Project
DENR Department of Environment and Natural Resources
DILG Department of Interior and Local Government
DOST Department of Science and Technology
DOT Department of Tourism
DTI Department of Trade and Industry
ECC Environmental Compliance Certificate
EIA Environmental Impact Assessment
EO Executive Order
ETWG Ecotourism Technical Working Group
FASPO Foreign-Assisted Projects Office
FIT Free and Independent Traveler
GAST Green Alliance for Sustainable Tourism
GEF Global Environment Facility
GIS Geographic Information System
GNP Gross National Product
GOP Government of the Philippines
GPS Global Positioning System
HRAP Hotel & Restaurant Association of the Philippines
HTIP Hotel Tourism Institute of the Philippines
IPAF Integrated Protected Area Fund
KKP Kaban Kalikasan ng Pilipinas
LGSP Local Government Support Program
LGU Local Government Unit
MOA Memorandum of Agreement
MR Marine Reserve
MTPDP Medium Term Philippine Development Plan
NAIA Ninoy Aquino International Airport
NEDA National Economic and Development Authority
NEDC National Ecotourism Development Council
NES National Ecotourism Strategy
NESC National Ecotourism Steering Committee
NGA National Government Agency
NGO Non Governmental Organization
NIPA NGOs for Integrated Protected Areas
NIPAS National Integrated Protected Area System
NPFP National Physical Framework Plan
NTO National Tourism Organization
OBST Olango Birds and Seascape Tour
P Philippine Peso
PA Protected Area
PALF Philippine Airlines Foundation
PAMB Protected Area Management Board
PAWB Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau
PCVC Philippines Convention and Visitor Center
PD Presidential Decree
PHILTOA Philippine Tour Operators Association
PRRM Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement
PSWO Provincial Social Welfare Officer
PTA Philippine Tourism Authority
PTO Provincial Tourism Officer
RA Republic Act
REC Regional Ecotourism Committee
SNS Save Nature Society
TA Technical Assistance
TESDA Technical Education Skills Development Authority
TIBFI Tourism Industry Board Foundation, Inc.
TMP Tourism Master Plan
TOR Terms of Reference
UNDP United Nations Development Program
UNEP United Nations Environment Program
UN/FAO United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization
UP University of the Philippines
USAID United States Agency for International Development
VFR Visiting Friends and Relatives
WTTC World Travel and Tourism Council
WTO World Tourism Organization
WWF World Wide Fund for Nature (World Wildlife Fund)
1.1 STATUS OF THIS REPORT
This document is a Preliminary Draft of a National Ecotourism Strategy (NES)
for the Philippines. A National Ecotourism Strategy was called for in
Executive Order 111 (EO 111) issued in 1999. Various bodies established
under EO 111 are undertaking the task of preparing the NES. Leading the
process is the National Ecotourism Steering Committee (NESC). Supporting
the process are 15 Regional Ecotourism Committees (RECs) and the
Ecotourism Technical Working Group (ETWG).
While the planning process is still in progress, this Preliminary Draft of the
NES has been prepared in order to elicit feed-back from a wide range of
stakeholder groups involved in ecotourism. This is an opportunity for NES
planners to set out their preliminary conclusions and to circulate these widely
so that all ecotourism stakeholders have an opportunity to critique them and
suggest new directions where necessary. The RECs will coordinate the
responses from stakeholders, region by region. The planning process is still at
a preliminary stage. There is ample scope for additions, even major revisions.
The Preliminary Draft is arranged in the format proposed for the final NES.
The following chapter presents a Situation Analysis, tracing recent events in
component parts of ecotourism. An Overall Strategic Framework is then
presented, which explains all the proposed major strategic directions in one
integrated chapter. Six further chapters take each of the major strategic
directions in turn and give details of what is proposed. At this early stage, the
last six chapters are only in outline form. Eventually they will include detailed
action plans for implementation.
The final NES will be the guiding document of the bodies formed under EO
111. It may also serve as a guide to other government agencies, to NGOs and
to organizations and individuals in the private sector. Hence, the language is
straightforward. Where jargon is used, it is the jargon of "ecotourism". The
goal is to transcend the boundaries between disciplines and to encourage
participation by a wide variety of stakeholders.
1.2 CONTEXT AND BACKGROUND TO THE NATIONAL ECOTOURISM
In 1991, the Department of Tourism in collaboration with the United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP) prepared the Philippines Tourism Master
Plan (TMP). Among the tourism objectives established by the TMP is one
aimed at positioning the country as a world-class tourism destination under the
guiding principle of sustainable tourism development. In 1992, a National
Tourism Congress took up this theme and at that Congress the concept of
“ecotourism” was introduced into the Philippines. Then, between 1994 and
1998, a series of regional ecotourism seminars discussed the concept. This
work culminated in 1998 in a Technical Workshop on Sustainable Tourism,
during which the elements of a sustainable development framework were
identified and key issues defined.
On June 17, 1999, Executive Order 111 was issued. This established a formal
organizational structure for the development of ecotourism in the Philippines.
EO 111 created a National Ecotourism Development Council (NEDC),
composed of the Secretaries of Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources,
Interior and Local Government, Trade and Industry, Finance, Education,
Culture and Sports, and the Secretary-General of the National Economic and
Development Authority and representatives from the private sector and non-
governmental groups. Underneath the NEDC, a National Ecotourism Steering
Committee (NESC) and 15 Regional Ecotourism Committees (RECs) were
established to implement the programs and activities approved by the Council.
EO 111 also called for an Ecotourism Technical Working Group (ETWG) to
provide technical and administrative support to the NEDC and the NESC. All
of these bodies now exist and are active. They are referred to collectively in
the Preliminary Draft NES as “the EO 111 bodies”.
The first function assigned to the NESC in EO 111, and the one that provides
the essential rationale for the NES planning work currently under way, is:
Formulate and develop a national ecotourism strategy and program for the
promotion and development of ecotourism in the country.
EO 111 further stipulates that:
The National Ecotourism Strategy shall be prepared by the Council to
provide an integrated management plan, which shall warrant a
comprehensive direction for the future of ecotourism in the country by
recognizing issues and problems for its sustainable development and
recommend feasible approaches in addressing these issues. The Strategy
shall be formulated in consultation with concerned stakeholders in the
environment and tourism sectors including indigenous peoples and local
communities to be effected by ecotourism development.
To complement and support the aforementioned Strategy, a National
Ecotourism Program shall be developed. The program shall encompass the
major aspects of ecotourism, which are 1) development, management and
protection of identified ecotourism sites; 2) product enhancement and
development; 3) environmental education and information campaign;
4) support programs for community stewardship and livelihood development.
1.3 DEFINITION OF ECOTOURISM
In October 1999, the First National Ecotourism Congress was held in
Tagbilaran City, Bohol. Organized by the DOT, DENR, DILG and supported
by UNDP, this Congress generated a number of outputs: a comprehensive
definition of ecotourism, a vision and mission statements, and a set of goals
to guide us of ecotourism in the Philippines.
Ecotourism Policy Statement in the sustained integrated development
The state shall develop and promote ecotourism as a tool for sustainable
development to support the development, management, protection and
conservation of the country’s environment, natural resources and cultural
heritage. The State shall establish an integrating system to focus greater
efforts to sustain the viability of ecotourism development in the country.
A form of sustainable tourism within a natural and cultural heritage area
where community participation, protection and management of natural
resources, culture and indigenous knowledge and practices, environmental
education and ethics, as well as economic benefits are fostered and pursued
for the enrichment of host communities and satisfaction of visitors.
Ecotourism envisions a globally competitive but distinct Philippine tourism
characterized by a balanced ecosystem and a well-preserved culture and
indigenous knowledge systems and practices which are nurtured by
committed, empowered, responsive and gender-sensitive stakeholders for the
benefit of present and future generations.
To position the Philippines as a globally competitive ecotourism destination
anchored on sustainable development where the use, development and
protection of the country’s natural resources and environment as well as the
preservation and management of cultural heritage are given priority
consideration for the benefit of present and future generations.
To this end, initiatives shall be pursued to strengthen local leadership,
institutionalize community participation, facilitate domestic and foreign
investments, promote environmental education and ethics, instill
nationalism and harness local entrepreneurship and multi- stakeholder
partnership, towards the upliftment of the quality of life of host communities
and the enrichment of visitor experience.
Develop globally competitive ecotourism products.
Develop responsible ecotourism market
Optimize community benefits and enhance the quality of visitor
experience from ecotourism.
The United Nations has declared 2002 as the International Year of
Ecotourism following a recommendation by the Philippines. In support of
this declaration, many countries throughout the world are currently
preparing their national plans on ecotourism. Various international and
regional conferences have also been organized to discuss and share
experiences on developing ecotourism and community-based tourism.
In the Philippines, the 1999 Bohol Congress has clearly defined the
concept of ecotourism in relation to the needs and aspirations of the
Philippines which is, thus, custom-designed to the Philippines context.
The Bohol Congress output has, therefore, laid the foundations for the
1.4 IMPERATIVES FOR URGENT ACTION
The introductory paragraphs of EO 111 provide the fundamental rationale
for proposing a system for promoting and developing ecotourism in the
.. it is the policy of the State to develop and promote sustainable tourism
while enjoining the participation of the Filipino people in enhancing the
growth and competitiveness of the Philippine economy;
.. it is the policy of the state to ensure the sustainable use, development,
management, protection and conservation of the country’s environment and
natural resources and cultural heritage for the enjoyment of the present and
.. the development and promotion of ecotourism in the Philippines are viable
and sustainable activities that will promote the protect of our environment
while contributing at the same time to the growth of the economy;
.. there is a need to establish an integrated system that shall warrant and
focus government effort to sustain the viability of ecotourism development in
As a refinement to this rationale, the NESC is suggesting specific and urgent
national priorities that can be addressed by the NES, to wit:
diversify the Philippines’ tourism product mix, especially in light of
current downturn in tourist arrivals.
spread the benefits of tourism to rural areas, not only for the provision of
employment generation and poverty alleviation but also for the
sustainability of the tourism industry.
ensure the long-term sustainability of conservation management systems
by providing an economic rationale for conservation management of
natural and cultural sites.
promote wholesome styles of recreation in outdoor environments and to
provide for conservation awareness programs and education outside the
minimize, if not totally eliminate, practices that degrade the natural
and cultural resources by creating models that will demonstrate ways
for local communities to engage in non-exploitative and unsustainable
manner of utilizing/ exploiting the resources.
1.5 OBJECTIVES OF THE NATIONAL ECOTOURISM STRATEGY
In light of the foregoing, the following objectives are proposed for the NES:
1. To fulfil the requirements of EO 111 for an integrated, management-
oriented document that proposes feasible approaches to the promotion
and development of ecotourism, through a process that recognizes
current issues and that includes consultation with concerned stakeholders
from the environment and tourism sectors.
2. To adhere to the Bohol Congress definition and approach by
considering ecotourism as an important tool for sustainable
development, management, protection and conservation of the country’s
environment, natural resources and cultural heritage.
3. To relate the NES to urgent economic, social, environmental,
educational and resource management imperatives of Government and,
thus, heighten the sense of urgency for the implementation of
programs and projects.
1.6 THE PLANNING PROCESS TO DATE
After issuing Executive Order 111, the Government made its commitment to
ecotourism clear by taking positive steps to establishing the EO 111 bodies.
The NESC, ETWG and RECs now meet regularly and are active. A proposal
was submitted to the New Zealand Government for the technical
assistance in the formulation of the NES. The New Zealand Official
Development Assistance (NZODA) approved the Philippine Government
proposal, thus, a technical assistance is now provided to work alongside
with the NESC and ETWG preparing the NES.
The ETWG is now been housed in its own office within the DOT premises.
Comprising the Group are technical officials from DENR, DOT, DILG and
NEDA. The ETWG began its work with a series of team building workshops
with the NZODA to build a common understanding for the formulation of
the NES. With NZODA support, it conducted an extensive round of regional
ecotourism stakeholder consultation workshops as shown in Table 1 - 1.
These regional workshops were designed to allow key stakeholders the
opportunity to influence the NES from the outset. They were also
opportunities for information gathering and for the members of the ETWG to
become familiar with ecotourism in the regions. Based on the workshops and
site visits, members of the ETWG then drafted the Situation Analysis (as
discussed in Section 2 of this report) for the NES.
Table1-1: Regional Ecotourism Stakeholder Consultation Workshops in 2001
CAR, 2 August, Baguio City Reg VII, 20 June, Tabilaran City
Reg I, 18 August, San Fernando City Reg VIII, 29 June, Tacloban City
Reg II, 20 June, Tuguegarao City Reg IX, 5 September, Zamboanga City
Reg III, 23 August, Angeles City Reg X, 26 April, Cagayan de Oro
Reg IV A, 19 September, Tagaytay City Reg XI, 2 May, Davao City
Reg IV B, 23 August, Puerto Princesa Reg XII, 13 September, Cotabato City
Reg V, 20 June, Legaspi City CARAGA, 26 April, Cagayan de Oro
Reg VI, 21 June, Iloilo City
The regional workshops generally endorsed the Bohol Congress definition of
"ecotourism" as the starting point for the NES and produced the beginnings of
a shared vision on how to develop styles of tourism that conform to the ideals
implied by that definition. The ETWG compiled the outputs of the regional
workshops into a matrix and then invited all the EO 111 bodies to attend a
National Ecotourism Planning Workshop to discuss and relate the composite
Held at Clark Airbase on 27 and 28 November 2001, and attended by 85
members of EO 111 bodies from throughout the Philippines, the objectives of
the National Ecotourism Planning Workshop were:
To discuss elements of the proposed National Ecotourism Strategy based
on the issues and concerns identified by the stakeholders in the regional
ecotourism stakeholder consultation workshops;
To identify / select Key Ecotourism Sites based on the list of ecotourism
areas from the regional workshops and subsequent deliberations by the
To develop an action plan for aspects of the proposed National Ecotourism
The key results of the National Ecotourism Planning Workshop are contained
in this Preliminary Draft of the NES. They are presented now in order to elicit
reactions and generates further ideas from a wider stakeholder audience.
1.7 FUTURE PLANNING STEPS
The RECs will lead the next stage of planning during which the focus will be
on assessing reactions to the Preliminary Draft on a regional basis. The RECs
in each region are composed of the Regional Director of DOT, Regional
Executive Director of DENR, Regional Technical Director for Environmental
Management and Protected Area Sector of DENR, NEDA- PCSD, a private
sector representative and a representative from the concerned local
government unit. The individual RECs will undertake whatever activities
they feel appropriate to elicit reactions and ideas for the NES from the widest
possible range of stakeholder groups.
In early February 2002, the NESC will call for the submissions of
feedback on the Preliminary Draft from the RECs. These will then be
compiled and the results incorporated in the Final Draft of the NES,
which is due in May 2002. The NESC is currently discussing the holding
of a Second National Ecotourism Congress to be held sometime in 2002 to
launch the NES.
2 SITUATION ANALYSIS
2.1 POLICY CONTEXT
2.1.1 Tourism and Economic Growth
Tourism in the Philippines accounts for 8.7 percent of Gross Domestic Product
and generates approximately five million jobs. Recently, tourism has achieved
a higher level of priority within the Philippine economic policy. President
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has elevated tourism to a senior cabinet post. The
Medium Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) 2001 – 2004 now
features a separate chapter on tourism and its contribution to the economy. It is
seen as a means to achieve national objectives centered on poverty
alleviation, employment generation and infrastructure strengthening.
The separate chapter on tourism in the MTPDP is attributed to the
formulation of the Philippine Tourism Master Plan (TMP) in 1991 and
the President pronouncement to identifying tourism as one of the pillars
of the country’s economic recovery. The main goals of TMP are to:
Optimize the contribution of tourism to economic growth at a national and
Enhance and contribute to social cohesion and cultural preservation at a
Develop tourism on an environmentally sustainable basis
Develop a diversity of destinations, attractions and markets to minimize
exposure to major internal and external threats to tourism industry.
A 1999 assessment of TMP’s implementation revealed that major policy shifts
were evident in the areas of transportation and infrastructure while those of
human resources, marketing and other areas had yet to be fully achieved.
In the transportation sector, Executive Order No. 219 liberalized the
international and domestic aviation policy. This policy opened market access
to new players on domestic routes, thus, improving the accessibility of major
tourism destinations at competitive prices with better quality service. Airports
were upgraded and new gateways were opened in Luzon (Laoag, Subic and
Clark), Visayas (Mactan-Cebu) and Mindanao (Davao, Zamboanga and
General Santos). Water transport was expanded with the issuance of
Executive Order No. 185, which opened the domestic water transport industry
to new operators and investors.
Recognizing the importance of the environment to the tourism industry, the
TMP also espoused a set of principles to aid tourism planning and
development at the national, regional and local levels. These principles
Environmental sustainability which ensures that the present use of the
environment and its resources are maintained at a level that does not
prejudice the ability of future generations to similarly use these resources
and meet their own needs
Ecosystem linkages that serve as a basis for the establishment by
legislation or a joint management procedure for both terrestrial and
adjacent coastal tourism areas
Ecological interactions or the recognition of the intrinsic connection
between sustainable use of living resources and protecting ecological
Multiple uses which allow the maximum variety of uses consistent with
conservation and acknowledging nature-based limitations in the pursuit of
Effective integration of environmental and socio-economic consideration
into the decision-making process ("sound ecology is good economics").
The TMP, therefore, advocates and adheres to the concept of sustainable
development through the implementation of appropriate policies and strategies
to protect areas with high environmental and cultural sensitivity while at the
same time providing livelihood to local community and enhancing the quality
of visitor experience.
2.1.2 Ecotourism Policy
Anchored on the TMP and Philippine Agenda (PA) 21, a sustainable tourism
development framework was prepared by the DOT in 1998, providing for
ecotourism as one of the tourism activities that can sustainably manage natural
and cultural resources while providing employment opportunities for local
communities. At that time, collaborations between the DOT and other
agencies such as the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) of the
DENR, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the National
Museum were also beginning with the aim of fostering ecotourism.
Building on these initiatives, Executive Order No. 111 issued in 1998 provided
the basis for a formal partnership between DOT and DENR and other agencies
to fully develop and promote ecotourism. EO 111 also established an
institutional framework and mechanism for the integrated development of
The objectives of EO 111 were furthered by the National Ecotourism Congress
in Bohol in 1999 that adopted a national policy and definition of ecotourism
(See Chapter 1).
2.1.3 Protected Areas Policy
In 1992, Republic Act No. 7586 was passed providing for the establishment
and management of a National Integrated Protected Area System (NIPAS).
The NIPAS law also provides for the establishment of buffer zones and other
multiple use zones including ecotourism. Consequently, the zoning of
protected areas has taken recognition of the role of tourism in its protection,
development and management. Tourism activities, particularly ecotourism are
permitted in “recreational zones” to provide benefits to local residents as well
as enable visitors to appreciate the beauty of nature. Along these lines, the
DOT and PAWB have teamed up to develop a meaningful policy.
To ensure that environmental management plans are carried out, the NIPAS
law mandates the establishment of a Protected Area Management Board
(PAMB) to plan and administer the protected area, approve any proposal or
work plan to be implemented, delineate and demarcate protected area
boundaries and promulgate rules and regulations for the conservation,
protection and management of the area.
2.2 AGENTS OF DEVELOPMENT
2.2.1 Motivations Involved
In the development and promotion of ecotourism in the Philippines, there is a
wide range of individuals and organizations involved in the preparation of
plans, product development, implementation and marketing. Their
involvement is motivated by different interests, ranging from the need to
conserve natural resources, develop local communities, alleviate poverty to
providing an economic rationale for utilizing protected areas.
2.2.2 Organizations Involved
The DOT, pursuant to Executive Order No. 120, is mandated to ensure that
tourism’s economic benefits are dispersed to a wider segment of the
population. The DENR, on the other hand, is mandated by Executive Order
No. 192 to conserve, manage and develop the Philippines’ environment and
natural resources including its territorial waters and lands of public domain. A
key responsibility of the DENR is to manage protected and natural areas to
ensure that future generations can enjoy and reap benefits from the resources.
In addition, there are other national Government agencies whose support is
essential to ecotourism, namely:
Department of Education Culture and Sports – with potential to influence
values and raise awareness of the need to protect the environment, preserve
cultural heritage and foster social cohesion and national unity among the
Department of Interior and Local Government – with potential to ensure
the cooperation and support of local government units in national
ecotourism programs, providing a conducive climate for building
partnership among business and civil society to manage and develop
Department of Finance – with potential to develop an incentive program
for ecotourism taking stock of the local communities need for financial
assistance and private sector need for conducive investment climate.
Department of Trade and Industry – with potential to continually foster the
development of indigenous products and resources that can be promoted
and marketed internationally.
National Economic and Development Authority – with potential to provide
the policy and enabling climate for ecotourism to develop in consonance
with the Philippine Agenda 21 and various international and regional
declarations and agreements wherein the Philippines is a signatory.
While government provides the policy towards developing ecotourism, there
are also other agents or organizations that have already begun the groundwork
way ahead of the government. These organizations have collaborated with
each other and secured support from international sources to implement
various ecotourism programs. Table 2-1 shows the different institutions
involved in ecotourism.
Table 2-1: Agents for Developing Ecotourism Products
Ecotourism Products Organizations Involved
Outdoor recreation Private Sector
Eco-Walk DENR, NGO, Media, local foundation
Trekking DENR, LGU, DOT, PTA, LGU, SBMA, local
foundation, tourism councils, local community
River rafting/ kayaking Guide association
Caving DENR, LGU, National Museum
Diving Private sector, DND, PCSD, DENR, NGOs, LGUs
Bird Watching Local foundation
Cultural LGU, Tourism Councils
Source: DOT Regional Offices
While the government is currently leading the promotion of ecotourism, there
were a number of non-governmental organizations that started developing
ecotourism projects as early as 1980 when the term “ecotourism” first became
a buzzword among conservation groups. The key NGOs involved in the
development of ecotourism include:
Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM). Under its "EcoDev
Tour" program, the PRRM has developed nature tours in Ifugao,
Marinduque Island and Camiguin.
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Philippines (Kabang Kalikasan ng Pilipinas -
KKP) is an environmental organization committed to reverse the
accelerating degradation of the environment. The KKP is actively involved
with ecotourism programs in Tubbataha Reef, Donsol, Pamilacan and the
Conservation International (CI) is a field-based organization that helps in
the protection of ecosystems and improving the quality of life of local
communities. CI has recently been involved with ecotourism in the
Northern Sierra Madre and Northern Palawan.
Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) Philippines provides long term
practical assistance to both government and NGOs working on issues that
face the urban and rural people throughout the country. The key areas that
VSO are working include: community-based resource management,
enterprise development as well as education and communication.
Accessing Support Services and Entrepreneurial Technology (ASSET)
provides assistance to various organizations to build their capacity as
agents of social change and managers of people-driven development.
ASSET is a founding member of the Philippine Community-based
Sustainable Tourism (CBST) Association and is implementing projects in
Bohol, Palawan, Cebu, Davao, Camiguin, Ifugao, El Nido, Marinduque
and Bataan. Tour packages have been designed by ASSET including
canoeing, riding, river cruising, museum tours and trekking.
Haribon Foundation works for biodiversity conservation and sustainable
resource management. Its mission includes the promotion of community-
based management strategies, conduct of scientific and socio-economic
researches, and advocacy and policy development for biodiversity
conservation. Areas where Haribon has undertaken programs include Mt.
Isarog (Camarines Sur), Masinloc (Zambales), Bolinao (Pangasinan) and
El Nido Foundation is a social development organization that seeks to
improve the quality of life in El Nido while at the same time preserving the
area’s natural integrity through community-based efforts and partnerships
in conservation and sustainable utilization of the community’s resources.
Key programs include rehabilitation of watershed in Bebeladan, waste
management, micro financing and improvement of basic social services.
The Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA) is an attached agency of DOT as its
implementing arm for physical development. The PTA has set aside a
special fund for environmental projects related to ecotourism. Examples
include the conservation of Chocolate Hills and endangered tarsiers in Bohol,
the propagation of giant clams and rehabilitation of coral reefs in the Hundred
Island National Park in Pangasinan.
The PTA is implementing an environmental infrastructure project in Boracay
Island that will provide potable water supply, sanitation and a sewerage
Compared with other ASEAN countries, the Philippines is lagging behind its
neighbors in private sector ecotourism development and promotion. There are
relatively few specialized ecotourism operators in the Philippines such as the
El Nido Resorts (now owned by the Asian Conservation Corporation), dive
operators and a handful of adventure operators.
Local Government Units (LGUs)
In the history of Philippine governance, several legislative and executive
measures were undertaken granting local government units (LGUs) self-
governance, decentralization and local autonomy to enable them to attain their
fullest development as self-reliant communities and make them more effective
partners in the attainment of national goals.
In accordance with the Local Government Code of 1991 (Republic Act No.
7160) a number of LGUs have tied up with DOT, DENR, NGOs, Foundations
and the private sector to undertake community-based sustainable tourism
projects. In addition, some LGUs have collaborated with media and outdoors
clubs to promote greater consciousness to protect the environment and cultural
Several LGUs have won citations and awards from national and international
bodies for their efforts to promote environmental protection, conservation and
management. The Baguio City’s Eco-Walk program was undertaken by the
LGU in close cooperation with the media, DENR, NGO and local
organizations. The Eco-Walk includes educational tours, hiking, trekking and
tree planting to instill participants with a sense of commitment to protect the
environment. Palawan has been cited by various organizations as an ideal site
for ecotourism due to the LGUs active role protecting the environment through
advocacy and dialogues with communities and concerned stakeholders. LGU
initiatives in Bohol have helped make it an ideal site for ecotourism. The
successful dolphin and whale-watching tour in Bais, which has contributed
supplemental livelihood to fishermen and local communities, was spearheaded
by the LGU in tandem with NGOs.
International Organizations and Bilateral Arrangements
Not only government and private sector are involved in ecotourism in the
Philippines. International agencies have launched various programs to promote
ecotourism as a means to save depleting and degrading natural resources.
Examples include Olango Island where USAID has extended financial and
technical support to DENR’s Coastal Resources Management Program
(CRMP) to develop ecotourism. The World Bank’s Global Environment
Facility has allocated US$9 million to fund alternative livelihood in priority
ten protected areas under the Conservation of Priority Protected Area Project
(CPPAP) of the DENR. The NGOs for Integrated Protected Areas (NIPA)
which is managing CPPAP has signed a memorandum of agreement with
The Spanish Government has provided assistance to the PRRM to implement
an ecotourism program in Camiguin Island in Northern Mindanao. The
venture includes an island tour and homestay program managed by the
community themselves. The NZODA program is providing technical
assistance during the formulation and implementation of the National
Educational and outdoor recreational groups have actively supported
ecotourism with a view to building greater awareness and commitment to
environmental protection. Special interest activities such as bird, dolphin and
whale-watching have developed a niche market for local travelers who also
help disseminate information to preserve endangered species.
Outdoor recreational programs such as whitewater rafting, mountain climbing
and cave exploration have gained wide popularity among domestic travelers,
especially students and young professionals. These programs are undertaken in
cooperation with outdoor recreational organizations such as mountaineering
clubs, cave and rafting associations that can provide training. Popular
ecotourism programs supported by outdoor clubs include caving, river trailing,
rafting and kayaking in Callao Caves (Tuguegarao), Alayan Caves (Nueva
Viscaya) and trekking Mt. Pinatubo (Tarlac).
2.2.3 Issues and Concerns
Despite some success, there are still quite a number of constraints that inhibit
organizations involved to further promote ecotourism. These include:
Little or no effort is taken to encourage greater private sector participation
in the management of protected areas in partnership and/or cooperation
with local communities
The abilities of local communities are over estimated. Local ownership and
participation are certainly desirable and necessary, but they exhibit a
limited degree of professionalism
Conflicting and divergent roles of government, private sector and non-
governmental organizations sometimes cause confusion among local
Entry fees to conservation areas are hardly enough to support operational
expenses and expansion programs that could enhance the quality of
experience and attract more visitors
Earnings from concessions and gate receipts are sometimes deposited with
central authorities and thus are no longer available to finance local nature
conservation or improvement of facilities
Local populations lack the necessary know-how, experience and financial
Local labor forces cannot take on qualified jobs because of the low level of
training and education
Tourism potential is over estimated because of lack of realistic feasibility
or market studies
Private sector and other relevant organizations are ignored instead of being
included for their professionalism and understanding of markets
Linkage with the tourism industry, particularly tour operators, wholesalers
and marketing agents needs strengthening.
2.2.4 Institutional Framework
To address the concerns of the different organizations, the DOT and DENR
have worked together to evolve the partnership needed to jump-start
ecotourism awareness and cooperation.
In EO 111, the representation of the private sector and non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) was pursued at the NEDC, NESC and RECs. The
selection of representatives from the private sector and NGOs is undertaken
with criteria that emphasize commitment to sustainable tourism development
initiatives. Recognizing the vital roles of indigenous peoples and academics in
planning, managing, monitoring and advocating for ecotourism, representation
on the NEDC and NESC has been assured with one slot each.
EO 111 institutionalizes partnerships amongst the three important stakeholders
in sustainable development, namely government, business and civil society
(including academics, NGOs and IPs). The government has therefore played a
crucial role in formulating an ecotourism strategy for the Philippines.
2.2.5 Implications for Ecotourism
Recognizing that the policy environment has been established and a wide
range of individuals and organizations are now associated with ecotourism at
the national and local level, the EO 111 bodies should serve as the catalyst to
bring together agents of development to collaborate, cooperate and share
experiences towards sustaining the development and management of
ecotourism in the Philippines. The following are some interventions that could
further enhance these partnerships:
Harmonize existing programs and projects at the local levels building on
the Bohol Congress’ definition of ecotourism
Institutionalize Executive Order No. 111 through national legislation
Provide financing and technical assistance to small ecotourism enterprises
Develop standards and accreditation programs for a variety of ecotourism
products to ensure a consistent quality of visitor experience
Establish a network of ecotourism practitioners through the formation of a
Philippine Ecotourism Network
Provide technical and financial assistance to small scale ecotourism
enterprises by linking them with a network of practitioners and financing
Create a permanent unit within the DOT and DENR to handle the
coordination of ecotourism activities, dissemination of information and
sharing of experiences among individuals and organizations involved in
Establish regional Ecotourism Technical Working Groups to assist the
RECs carry out their mandate in EO 111
Provide policy support through national and local incentives, as well as
financing and matching grants for ecotourism projects
Integrate ecotourism in overall policies and programs at the local level,
particularly in disseminating information, enhancing awareness and
2.3 NATURAL RESOURCE BASE
2.3.1 Natural Resources for Ecotourism
With just over 7,000 islands, the Philippines or "Pearl of the Orient Seas" is
the world’s second largest archipelago after Indonesia’s 17,000 islands. Along
with Borneo and Papua New Guinea, the Philippines forms the Coral Triangle,
the most diverse marine habitat of the tropics. The beautiful reefs of the Sulu
and Sulawesi seas are home to about 580 of the world’s 793 species of reef-
building corals, compared to just 50 in the Caribbean and over 300 in the
Great Barrier Reef. It is also the habitat for 1,200 varieties of reef fish,
including the plankton-feeding whale shark, the world’s largest fish.
The natural resource base for ecotourism also encompasses wetlands,
volcanoes, rugged cliffs, craggy seascapes, and serene lakes surrounded by
woodlands harboring a rich variety of plants and animals. In the forest, fields
and mountains about 500 species of birds have been recorded, of which 172
species are found only in these islands. The Philippines ranks fifth in the world
and second in Asia, next to Indonesia, in terms of its number of endemic
animals. Among plant rich countries in the world, the Philippines ranks 25th in
the world and eighth in Asia. According to Conservation International, the
Philippines is both a mega-diversity country and one of the world’s highest
priority hotspots for the conservation of nature.
This section provides a summary of selected natural attractions for ecotourism
in the Philippines which include World Heritage Sites ASEAN Heritage Sites,
a Biosphere Reserve, a Transboundary Park and other protected areas. Based
on the Key Sites identified during the preparation of the National Ecotourism
Strategy, these attractions were discussed during extensive regional
consultations and finalized at the National Planning Workshop in November
2.3.2 Summary of Forest, Mountain and Volcano Attractions
With its rich diversity of forest types and situated on the Pacific “Rim of Fire”,
the Philippines has some of the most intense forest, mountain and volcanic
attractions in the world.
Mt. Apo Natural Park
At 2,954m Mt. Apo Natural Park in eastern Mindanao is the highest mountain
in the Philippines with a total area of 72,113ha. It is recognized for its natural
diversity of flora and fauna, including the Philippine eagle, tarsier, and 272
species of birds of which 40 percent (111 species) are endemic to Mt. Apo. It
holds special significance to at least six different indigenous peoples, the
Manobo, Bagobo Ubo, Ata, K’lagan and Tagacaolo peoples. Seven entry
points provide access to the mountain, and Mt Apo is a popular ecotourism
destination with hundreds of trekkers and mountaineers climbing Mt Apo each
year. Problems with rubbish management has resulted in restricting trekkers.
Bohol Chocolate Hill
Chocolate Hills are an established stop on the main tourist trail. Legend has it
that these 1000 or so nearly identical hills are the solidified teardrops of a
lovelorn giant. Tarsier visits nearby offer a firsthand encounter with the
smallest primate species in the world. The Loboc river cruise features fiesta
style hospitality on rafts arranged by the local community with a serenaded
Camiguin and Bukidnon
Security constraints have hampered the development of beautiful northern
Mindanao, except for domestic visitors who are attracted to Camiguin Island’s
volcanos, springs and waterfalls, Bukidnon forests, canopy walkway and river
running operation accessible from Cagayan de Oro.
More than half of the Sibuyan Island, where Mt. Guiting-Guiting lies, is
covered with forest. The Island is accessible by boat from Manila North
Harbor, from the port of Batangas City, or by plane or boat from Manila via
Mt. Isarog (1,976m) Natural Park in Camarines Sur Province in Southern
Luzon is a dormant volcano. This important bird area is a key conservation
site in the Philippines. The Park’s 10,112 ha. contain one of the largest tropical
rainforests in the Bicol Peninsula, with nearly half still covered with primary
Mt. Kanlaon (2,460m) Natural Park in Negros is 24,500 ha of forest and
volcano, including the highest peak in Central Philippines. Kanlaon has two
craters and is one of the most active volcanoes in the country. Despite many
eruptions, the most recent being in 1992, the mountain is a favorite trekking
destination. PAMB authorities have responded to accidents by limiting the
number of summit trekkers.
Mt Kitanglad Natural Park
Mt. Kitanglad is the catchment area for Cagayan, Tagoloan and Pulanguri
Rivers of Northern Mindanao and has a vital role in regulating the supply of
drinking water and crop irrigation to the whole of Bukidnon Province. The
mountain range is also the ancestral territory of indigenous peoples such as
Talaandig, Higanon and Bukidnon tribes, which share common traditions and
ties. Noted for its forest types and biodiversity, Mt. Kitanglad is a nesting site
for the Philippine eagle.
Mt. Makiling (1,144m) Forest Reserve is an isolated volcano in Southern
Laguna with some impressive forest on its upper slopes. It is an important
watershed and contains natural springs that are the major tourist attractions of
Los Baños. It also serves as a natural laboratory for students of the University
of the Philippines.
Mt. Mayon’s near perfect 2,300m. cone is a defining feature of the
Philippines. Erupting most recently in June 2001, Mt. Mayon is one of the
most active volcanoes in the world. When conditions are stable, Mayon is a
popular destination for day trips and overnight climbing expeditions.
Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park
Situated on the northeast coast of Luzon, Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park
(319,513ha) is the largest protected area in the Philippines, although difficult
to access. It is considered important as the largest tract of forest remaining in
the Philippines and because of the size and richness of its genetic, species and
habitat diversity. It has ecotourism potential due to its high conservation value.
The trek into Palanan could be combined with wilderness coastal activities.
Current security constraints need to be overcome and private sector operators
engaged in the enterprise in order to make any significant conservation inroads
by providing benefits to local communities in the Park.
Perhaps the best known Philippine volcano is Mt Pinatubo. Its massive
eruption in 1991 was both tragic and spectacular. The path of destruction
(lahar flow and formation of a crater lake) has since become an attraction to
visitors, located conveniently close to Manila. Mt. Pinatubo is now a well-
established ecotourism product involving an award winning, DOT inspired
partnership between the indigenous Aetas peoples, tour companies, 4WD
enthusiasts and resident communities.
Mt. Pulag (2,460 mts) is the second highest mountain in the Philippines. The
Mt. Pulag National Park covers 11,500 hectares and attracts thousands of
visitors due to its location only 50 kms from Baguio City. Mt. Pulag is valued
highly for its legacy of ethnic values. The people around Mt. Pulag believe the
mountain is sacred and the abode of spirits of the departed. The area has been
inhabited for many centuries by various tribal peoples, the Kalanguyan being
the most dominant tribe. Other tribes include the Ibaloi and the Kankan-ey.
Significant natural features include the dwarf bamboo and the rarely seen and
nearly extinct cloud rat, which feeds on the bamboo shoots and pandan. Other
flora in the park include tree ferns, Rhododendron and oak, and have a close
resemblance to Taiwan’s forest and plant species.
The active Taal Volcano is only 60kms from Manila and has become one of
the city’s major day trip attractions.
2.3.3 Summary of Coastal and Marine Attractions
Many coastal and marine attractions in the Philippines are world class and
have the potential to provide crucial ecotourism positioning for the country.
Some destinations are already well developed, whilst in others promotion,
protection and access remain constraints.
Apo Island and Negros Oriental Marine Conservation Park were one of the
early community-based coastal resource management models. Apo Island lies
off the coast of southeast Negros Oriental with beautiful coral gardens, a rock
climbing wall and a fishing village.
Apo Reef Natural Park
Apo Reef Natural Park is the largest atoll-type reef in the Philippines.
Sprawling across 34 sq. km., Apo Reef is a natural haven for over 375 species
of fish, bird life including the endangered Nicobar pigeon, and a range of
endangered plant species. Apo Reef is a highly valued but little used dive
Bohol’s marine attractions include Balicasag island which boasts of
magnificent diving. The island is ringed by a reef that drops away with
impressive submarine cliffs as deep as 50m. Pamilacan Island, meaning the
"mating place of manta rays," is 23 kms east of Balicasag. It could be an ideal
spot for whale and dolphin watching if current marketing and operational
conflicts could be overcome.
Coron Island in northern Palawan comprises 71 sq. km of hills, forests and
lakes and is a protected ancestral domain of the Tagbanua peoples. The
Tagbanuas are semi-nomads with Negrito blood. Lake Cabugao is reserved for
the Tagbanua and is strictly off-limits to visitors. Coron is highly valued for its
diving, sea kayaking, rock climbing and opportunities for island hopping.
Whale shark viewing from Donsol on the southern tip of southeast Luzon has
the potential to be a world class attraction for the Philippines. Organization,
competition between operators, seasonality, and lack of guaranteed sightings
are a constraint.
El Nido, Northern Palawan
Many people claim that El Nido is the most beautiful place in Palawan, with
its tall limestone cliffs rising from the ocean, hidden lagoons and many islets.
Well-known for its diving, sea kayaking and rock climbing possibilities, the
protected area is managed by El Nido Resorts, a successful example of a
partnership with the private sector for ecotourism development.
Situated to the northeast Mindanao, Siargao Island is an important ecotourism
destination due to its natural features and quality of surf, despite its isolation.
Dugong (sea cow), flying foxes, tarsier and flying lemurs are some of the
natural highlights of Siargao. For tourism, Siargao is famous for the best
surfing in the Philippines and surf resorts are well established. Opportunities
to link the niche surf markets with other land-based attractions have yet to be
Tanon Strait (whales and dolphin watching)
The Tanon Straight between Cebu and Negros is protected and patrolled with
strong commitment from LGUs and local communities, ensuring an
abundance of marine life. Due to pioneering community-based protection
work by the Sulliman University in Dumaguete, Apo Island offers diving and
beach recreation in a pristine environment with a strong domestic market base.
Dolphin watching tours from Bais in Negros Oriental are arranged by the city
of Bais, Office of the Mayor Tourism Operations Division, guaranteeing
dolphins throughout the year (long-snouted spinner, bottle-nosed and spotted
dolphins) and with several species of resident whales often sighted (short-
finned pilot, dwarf sperm and melon-headed whales).
The Turtle Islands Wildlife Sanctuary in Tawi-tawi is the only remaining
major nesting ground of turtle rookery in all of South East Asia. The
Governments of Malaysia and the Republic of the Philippines have executed
an award winning Bilateral Agreement to protect and conserve what was
called the Turtle Island Heritage Protected Area (TIHPA). On the Malaysian
side, ecotourists can see the wonder and ordeals of the turtles laying their eggs.
From the Philippines access is generally considered unsafe, due to the political
upheavals in western Mindanao and Sulu Sea.
Tubbataha National Marine Park and World Heritage Area
Tubbataha is also a remote atoll reef system, but in contrast to Apo Reef,
Tubbataha attracts a significant number of divers during the short May to July
season. Located 200 kms from Puerto Princesa in Palawan, Tubbataha is a
successful example of ecotourism, with tourism closely linked to conservation.
Divers visit on live-aboard charters paying significant user fees that generated
P1.6m in 2000. Protection is assisted by the full-time presence of the
Philippines National Coast Guard.
2.3.4 Summary of Lake, River and Wetland Attractions
Lakes and wetlands in the Philippines are important as feeding and wintering
grounds for migratory birds from Siberia, Japan, Australia and Southeast Asia.
Wetlands provide bird watching, scientific study and culture orientated
Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary
Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary offers one of the very few opportunities to
see the Philippine freshwater crocodile. Pythons and the Philippine cobra are
It is a popular domestic recreation area for fishing and picnics in the
surrounding forest. Lake Danao is home to a variety of wildlife species.
Olango Island is a low-lying island off the east coast of Mactan Island, Cebu
where the donor-established Olango Birds and Seascape Tour (OBST)
provides day visitors with a highly interpreted experience of the islands,
migratory bird habitat, village life and marine protected areas.
2.3.5 Summary of Cave Attractions
Caves are found throughout the Philippines amongst relatively young
limestone. They are particularly popular with domestic visitors.
Penablanca Protected Landscape
The huge limestone systems of Penablanca in Luzon attract mainly domestic
cavers and pilgrims. Callao Cave is one of the most popular and the regular
evening bat flight from Bat Cave on the river is potentially an outstanding
ecotourism product, though currently undervalued and poorly presented.
Puerta Princesa Underground River
The only Philippines’ cave attraction with likely international appeal, the boat
trip through Puerto Princesa Underground River approached through coastal
forest is established as the country’s most successful cave experience.
Sohoton Natural Bridge National Park in Samar was one of the first national
parks in Asia. The park is famous for its natural stone bridge feature and caves
system and attracts the domestic market.
2.3.6 Summary of Nature-Based Cultural Attractions
Batanes Island is a remote, inaccessible, yet beautiful outpost in the far
northern reaches of the Philippine archipelago, situated less than 150
kilometers from southern Taiwan closer to Taipei than Manila. Only three of
Batanes’ ten islands are inhabited. Covering over 200 hectares it was
proclaimed a protected landscape and seascape in 1994 for its unique cultural
characteristics. Batan Island is home to the charming provincial capital of
Basco, where narrow streets and whitewashed homes make it one of the
prettiest towns in the Philippines. The local Ivatan culture has evolved in
isolation to that of the mainland ethnic groups. Weekly flights link Batanes
Ifugao Rice Terraces
The Ifugao Rice Terraces are an icon cultural product of the Philippines. Often
marketed as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”, the Ifugao rice terraces are a
well established attracting supporting one major hotel, several inns and a
selection of village accommodation, such as Batad. Most visitors arrive on a
north Luzon package that includes Sagada and Baguio. Potential exists for
ecotourism development with village visits, handicrafts and trekking to extend
visitor stay and bring benefits to the local communities.
The scenic beauty and cultural attractions of Lake Sebu Protected Landscape
in South Cotabato was an established tourism product before security
constrained international visitors. Ecotourism potential with community
participation could feature the gentle charm of the T’boli and their skill in
weaving and making brassware.
Table 2 – 2 shows the various ecotourism products available and can be
developed in the foregoing sites. The RECs need to further evaluate the
products and sites to determine the market positioning and type of development
needed to promote the said areas for ecotourism.
Table 2-2: Summary of Selected Ecotourism Products in the Philippines
Protected Mt. Mt. Apo Mt. Malam Mt. Mt. El Mt. Coron Agusan Bat- Subic Sierra Tur Siargao Mt.
Areas/ Apo Kanla Reef Isarog -paya Malin- Pulag Nido Guiting- Island Marsh anes Bataan Madr -tle Island Kitang-
Activities on Sound dang Guiting e Is. lad
Trekking X X X X X X X X X X X X
Contact X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Watching X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Hiking X X X X X X X X X X X X X
King X X X X X X X X X X
Ing/Tour X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Diving X X X X X X X X
Watching X X X X X
Lling X X X X X X
2.3.7 Natural Resource Management
Almost all the natural attractions for ecotourism in the Philippines are
managed under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act.
NIPAS legislation provides the institutional framework by which many
stakeholder groups play an role in nature conservation and ecotourism. The
institutionalization of the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) has
endeavored to realize two important objectives for the Government:
strengthening local governance and fostering effective partnerships between
the Government and civil society in resource and protected area management.
The PAMB, which is the policy-making body at the site level, exercises
management supervision over each protected area.
At the site level and along with the PAMB, protected areas are administered
by the Protected Area Superintendents specifically for the purpose of
implementing the area’s Management Plan. Some are supported by the
National Integrated Protected Area Program (NIPAP), a special project of the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) assisted by a
grant from the European Union (EU). Others are assisted by the Conservation
of Priority Protected Areas and Conservation Project (CPPAP), a joint project
of the DENR and NGOs for Integrated Protected Areas (NIPA), with funding
assistance from Global Environment Facility (GEF)-World Bank.
Local Government Units (LGUs) usually provide administrative/logistical
support in project implementation as well as law enforcement. Other national
government agencies also provide technical support in biodiversity
conservation and assistance in law enforcement. For instance in Mt. Guiting-
Guiting, the Philippine National Police/Phil. Maritime Police and Coast Guard
and the Phil. Air Force are involved in law enforcement (apprehension of
violators and illegal poachers).
2.3.8 Management Issues and Concerns
Illegal encroachment and occupancy
Kaingin or shifting cultivation
Poor access to basic services
Lack of livelihood alternatives
Legal and Institutional Issues
Land tenure of indigenous peoples (IPs)
Private and titled properties within protected areas
Overlapping roles of different managing authorities.
Access is sometimes logistically difficult
Limited provision of infrastructure and varying degrees of quality
Use of carrying capacity limits and lack of visitor management systems
(i.e. rubbish) resulting in closure of public access may restrain the
creation of alternative livelihoods through ecotourism
Emergency response is in embryonic stage
Limited skilled labor available to manage protected areas.
In Table 2 – 3, the constraints and opportunities facing the use of
protected areas for ecotourism is outlined. It is envisaged that the
recommendations arising from the consultations and anslysis of the issues
will be pursued to fully promote the natural and protected areas as model
sites for ecotourism development in the Philippines.
2.3.9 Implications for Ecotourism
Opportunities for ecotourism development in some of the protected areas
may be restrained if the present trend of environmental degradation
Zoning, as provided for in the NIPAS legislation, may offer a practical
approach to manage resource use and ecotourism in protected areas.
Visitor management systems need to address carrying capacity concerns
Information, education and communication activities need to be intensified
in order to gain a major leap in ecotourism development in the protected
Ecotourism will be constrained unless support infrastructures and facilities
Trained staff are essential for wise management of protected areas.
Opportunities exist for a network of volunteers to assist in the management
of protected areas.
Table 2-3: Matrix of Opportunities and Problems Facing the Use of Protected Areas for Ecotourism
Development in the Philippines
Category Opportunities Problems/Threats/Issues Recommendations
Enhanced level of Resource degradation if unsustainably Institute and implement an
A. awareness on managed; Environmental and Resource
Environmental conservation of nature Disturbance of wildlife species; Management Plan
(Physical & through interpretation & Destruction or alteration of natural
Ecological) other related activities; features;
Promote Possibility of bio-piracy;
conservation practices; Threat to watershed capacity due to land
Enhanced aesthetic use conversion;
value of the resources. Poorly maintained or lack of access road.
B. Management Opportunities for the Lack of trained personnel for ecotourism Training Program for PAO &
& Operation development of management; PAMB on ecotourism/resource
ecotourism products and Lack of funds to promote ecotourism management;
activities; management and develop ecotourism products; GOP to allocate more funds for
Promote Lack of supporting services and ecotourism devt& monitoring;
transparency and appropriate facilities; Conduct/Intensify IEC on
accountability in Lack of logistics in carrying out ecotourism ;
resource management; ecotourism activities and monitoring; Training Program for
Establish a Lack of awareness of policies in communities on livelihood
voluntary movement to ecotourism development among implementers. Opportunities in ecotourism
assist in management of
C. Social Recreational and Possible exploitation of local people; Conduct of Social Preparedness
educational opportunities Negative reaction or aversion of local Program for local communities;
to improve the quality of people to development because of lack of Intensify IEC on ecotourism;
life; information; Institution of clear policies and
Enriched knowledge Conflicting interest in resource utilization. guidelines in PA management;
through interaction and Adopt appropriate tenurial
information exchange instruments for resource
between local utilization & management;
communities and Explore development of
tourists. volunteer service.
D. Economic Increased Possibility of inequity in the distribution of Training/Employment Program
employment benefits; for local communities & IPs;
opportunities; Lack of resource valuation to determine Incentives/Support for
Increased revenues the appropriate schedule of user fees; community-initiated livelihood
from ecotourism Possibility of displacement of local projects;
activities; communities/indigenous peoples. Conduct natural resource
Livelihood valuation to determine user
opportunities for local fees/charges.
standard of living.
E. Cultural Enrichment of Threat to culture; Implement Cultural
cultural practices, values Possibility of exploitation of IPs. Management Program for the
and indigenous enrichment of indigenous
knowledge; culture and knowledge
between the indigenous
peoples (IP) and other
Improvement in IP’s
F. Promote multi- Conflicting mandates over potential Harmonize policies to
Institutional sectoral ecotourism sites (turf issues); complement projects/activities.
partnership/collaboration Uncoordinated development plans
in conservation. resulting in conflict in resource management.
G. Political Opportunities for Abuse in resource utilization for economic Ordinances & policies
local development; gains; promoting sustainable mgt of
Empowerment of Ecotourism being used as political resources; Training of elected
local communities in propaganda; officials to make them
park management. Lack of political will to support ecotourism advocates for SD
2.4 CULTURAL RESOURCE BASE
2.4.1 Cultural Resources for Ecotourism
Ecotourism combines cultural and natural resources, often as one product.
Rafting the Cagayan River is more than just an adventurous activity for
overseas visitors or expatriates, when villages are visited and stories told by
local guides. Dolphin watching in the Tanon Strait is enhanced with stories of
how local communities are working together to protect dolphins and whales.
Beyond the ‘warmth and friendliness’ and ‘hospitality and kindness,’ the
unique features of Filipino culture have not been fully emphasized as a
tourism resource to motivate and attract overseas travelers to visit the
Philippines. Business, visiting friends and relatives, general beach holidays
and sightseeing remain the dominant travel motivations for the majority of
Whilst there are distinctive examples of Filipino culture (such as festivals,
fiestas, museums, churches, handicrafts, artwork and authentic traditional
villages) the range of products and delivery to visitors does not appear to be
matched to any great extent by travelers who are in search primarily of
Filipino culture. Some unique features of Filipino culture are no doubt noticed
by visitors but this tends to show up as ‘warmth and friendliness’ in market
surveys. By contrast, the domestic travel market is geared highly towards
festivals, fiestas, regional cuisine and to a lesser extent, museums and cultural
ecotourism products such as the Ifugao Rice Terraces.
With this as a backdrop, it is important to consider the special characteristics
of Filipino culture that can be integrated into ecotourism products.
2.4.2 Key Cultural Resources
Key cultural resources with current or potential adaptation for ecotourism are:
Festivals and events
Museums and cultural repositories
Handicrafts, arts and crafts
A summary of these key cultural resources by region is provided in Table 2-4.
It illustrates that festivals and events are still a major feature in the celebration
of culture and the delivery of this to visitors in the Philippines. Museums and
repositories are another important component followed by handicrafts, and arts
and crafts outlets. Cultural villages, specially recreated for visitors, are not
widespread. This may be indicative of market trends whereby visitors
(domestic and international) prefer access to living villages and more authentic
Table 2-4: Regional Distribution of Key Cultural Resources
Region Key Cultural Resources
Festivals/ Cultural Museums/ Handicrafts/ Cuisine/
Events Village Repositories Arts/ Crafts Food
I 16 1 22 N/A N/A
CAR 13 2 6 8 11
II 20 N/A 22 9 N/A
III 28 N/A 2 N/A 24
IV 91 10 22 39 34
V 26 N/A 5 N/A N/A
VI 23 1 32 42 23
VII 52 N/A 21 N/A 22
VIII N/A N/A 1 N/A N/A
IX 25 2 4 8 3
X 10 1 1 5 4
XI 16 N/A 9 7 9
XII 16 N/A 19 1 N/A
XIII 35 N/A N/A 11 N/A
Source: DOT Regional Offices, 2001
Legend: N/A – not available at the time of the compilation of the Strategy
2.4.3 Festivals and Events
Role of Festivals and Fiestas in Philippine Life
One of the conditions that facilitated the conquest of the Philippine
archipelago by its Spanish colonizers was the amorphous nature of the society
composed of small kinship units known as barangays. The fiesta became the
irresistible magnet that drew the entire scattered population to the principal
settlements where the parish churches were located at least three times a
year—Holy Week, Corpus Christi, and the feast of the local patron saint. In
modern economic terms, the fiesta represents four industries: leisure, travel,
restaurant and entertainment.
Trends in Festivals as a Tourism Resource
In his book "Fiesta," anthropologist Alejandro Roces points out that "the
lifeblood of the fiesta is the support of the traditional inhabitants of the
locality. Like all living traditions, the fiesta has to gain the acceptance of every
new generation. The Philippines’ pre-war "procession of processions"—La
Naval de Manila—is now a non-event. On the other hand, two small town
fiestas that the general public had never heard of till the 50’s have grown to
spectacular proportions—the Moriones of Marinduque and the Ati-atihan of
Aklan. They have now become top tourist attractions."
2.4.4 Cultural Villages
One of the earliest examples of a Philippines purpose-built cultural village is
the Nayong Pilipino, a 32-acre "village" located next to the Ninoy Aquino
International Airport. Childhood memories of Metro Manila students include a
field trip to this "Little Philippines" that features replicas of the country’s
leading tourist spots, shopping for souvenir items, seeing craft demonstrations
and viewing various cultural shows featuring regional songs, dramas and
Such cultural villages were popularized in the 1970s and 1980s and to this day
still serve a purpose. However, a significant number of cultural workers,
historians and tourists have found such cultural villages too contrived to be
truly reflective of Philippine culture. Since the early 1990s, a trend towards
more authentic representations of cultural life has occurred. Villages such as
Tam Awan, Baguio and the Talaanding School of Living Traditions, Bukidnon
in Mindanao, have been developed as show cases for visitors and as centers
for artists and crafts people. They also have rehabilitation programs which
teach youths and young adults local art and craft skills and cultural traditions.
Vigan in North Luzon, Silay in Negros and Intramurous in Manila are ‘real
life’ examples of Filipino cultural heritage which are becoming increasingly
popular with both domestic and international visitors. Table 2 – 5
enumerates the cultural villages which have been developed following the
trend to showcase local cultures, lifestyle, traditions and artifacts.
Table 2-5: Regional Distribution of Cultural Villages
Region Cultural Village Location Key Features
I Vigan Heritage Village Vigan, Ilocos Sur Century old houses showing
influence in architecture
CAR Baguio Botanical Garden Leonard Wood Road, Also called the Igorot
Baguio City Village, this features native
huts typical of Cordillera
Tam-awan Village Baguio City Successful recreation of
Ifugao life, art & culture.
IV Baclayan Mangyan Settlement Puerto Galera, Home of Iraya Mangyan
Saclag Mangyan Settlement San Teodoro, Iraya Tribe
Lantuyang Mangyan Baco, Oriental Alangan Tribe
Paitan Mangyan Settlement Naujan, Oriental Alangan Tribe
Montelago Mangyan Naujan, Oriental Tadyawan Tribe
Grambida Mangyan Victoria, Oriental Tadyawan Tribe
Safa-Sabang B38 Sabang, Pinamalayan Tadyawan - Taubuhid
Mangyan Oriental Mindoro
Batangan Mangyan Bongabong, Budhid Tribe
Settlement Oriental Mindoro
Siange Mangyan Bongabong, Bangon Tribe
Settlement Oriental Mindoro
Panaytayan Mangyan Mansalay, Hanunuo Tribe
Settlement Oriental Mindoro
VI Kati-kati San Miguel, Jordan, Aeta settlement which is an
Guimaras outreach program of Trappist
IX Sahaya-Rio Hondo-Campo Zamboanga City Colony of Tausugs, Samas
Muslim and Badjaos
Yakan Weaving Village Zamboanga City Village of Yakans who are
considered among the finest
weavers of the country
X Gardens of Malasag Ecotourism Cagayan de Oro Cultural village of Mindanao
Village tribes in a botanical setting
Source: DOT Regional Offices
2.4.5 Museums and Cultural Repositories
The National Museum and National Historical Institute look after many
museums and cultural repositories. Others are managed by foundations,
churches and families. Although a regional breakdown of museums and
cultural repositories (prepared for the NES) is too lengthy to be presented here,
in summary there are around 180 such attractions in the country. Most are
based in cities and towns away from ecotourism areas.
2.4.6 Handicrafts/Arts and Crafts Centers
Luzon is famous for the vast array of its handicrafts. These include sculpted
pieces from Paete, wood filigree from Pakil, finely embroidered jusi and pina
cloth from Lumban and Batangas, Ilocano blankets and traditional woven
cloth, burnay pottery from Vigan, baskets from the mountain provinces, silver
filigree from Baguio, abaca products like place mats, coasters and slippers
The Visayas region boasts export quality products. Cebu is known for its
fashion accessories and rattan, bamboo and coral stone furniture; Bohol for its
hand-woven mats, baskets, hats and bags; Bacolod for its children's clothes,
Negros Occidental for its pottery items like vases and ash trays.
Mindanao is known for its wide assortment of exotic goods including Maranao
brass and bronze products, Yakan tapestries, Tiruray and Bagobo baskets,
colorful woven cloth from the various indigenous cultural communities in the
2.4.7 Cuisine and Food
Food is one of the major preoccupations of the Filipino. Baguio serves the
freshest fruits and vegetable grown in nearby Trinidad Valley. Pampanga is
known for its sweet meat the "tocino", while Batangas is famous for its
succulent beef "bulalo" and potent coffee. Bicol is a coconut-growing region
and most of its popular cuisine use coconut milk and a potpourri of spices.
Cebu and Palawan serve fresh seafood, seaweed salad and the sweetest
mangoes. Iloilo is popular for its "pansit molo" and "la paz batchoy." Davao is
famous for its "inihaw na panga" and exotic fruits like durian, pomelo,
mangosteen and rambutan, while Zamboanga serves some of the most
succulent prawns, crabs, lobsters and "curacha."
Filipino culture has many distinguishing features yet these do not appear to
be sought to any great extent by current international markets to the
Developing more “living” and “real” cultural products rather than purpose
built cultural villages and museums would respond to global trends for
authenticity in some ecotourism markets.
Festivals, fiestas, regional cuisine and to a lesser extent, museums,
churches and some cultural ecotourism products are important motivators
for the domestic market.
Can ecotourism products be developed and positioned in such as way as to
help maintain and enhance Filipino culture?
2.5 MARKET ANALYSIS
2.5.1 International Tourism Trends
The World Tourism Organization reports that the total number of international
arrivals reached a record 699 million in 2000, almost 50 million more than in
1999. This represents an increase in international tourism of 7.4 per cent, its
highest growth rate in nearly a decade and almost double the increase of 1999
(3.8 per cent). All regions of the world hosted more tourists in 2000, although
the fastest developing region continued to be East Asia and the Pacific with a
growth rate of 14.7 per cent and some 14 million more tourists than in 1999.
Prior to 11 September 2001, the evolution of the international economy was
already marked by a slow down of anticipated annual growth in global GNP, a
decline in world stock markets, and considerable cuts in US and European
interest rates in an effort to reactivate economies.
Despite optimistic forecasts, consumer confidence continued to wane,
contributing to the economic slowdown. As a result discretionary spending on
tourism is showing signs of decline. The WTO projects that the tourism sector
in the upcoming years is not expected to perform quite as well as the event
filled year of 2000 but will increase by a more modest rate of 4.1 per cent for
the next 10 to 20 years.
2.5.2 Travel Trends to the Asian Region
East Asia and the Pacific saw growth in tourist arrivals in 2000 driven by big
increases in China and its special administrative regions of Hong Kong and
Macao. Southeast Asia, especially Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia and
Vietnam, is becoming one of the world’s favorite tourism destinations with
demand outstripping tourist facilities. Australia enjoyed its own tourism boom
due to the Sydney Olympics and accompanying publicity. Table 2 – 6
outlines the detailed volume of visitors generated, growth rates and
markets shares of the countries in the Asia – Pacific region.
Table 2-6: Arrivals to East Asia and the Pacific Region 2000
(Thousand) Growth Rate (%) Market Share (%)
1999 2000 1999/1998 2000/1999 1999 2000
East Asia/Pacific 97,566 111,894 10.8 14.7 100.0 100.0
China 27,047 31,229 7.9 15.5 27.7 27.9
Hong Kong 11,328 13,059 11.5 15.3 11.6 11.7
Malaysia 7,931 10,222 42.9 28.9 8.1 9.1
Thailand 8,651 9,509 10.3 9.9 8.9 8.5
Macau 5,050 6,682 11.8 32.3 5.2 6.0
Korea, Republic of 4,660 5,322 9.6 14.2 4.8 4.8
Indonesia 4,728 5,064 2.6 7.1 4.8 4.5
Australia 4,459 4,946 7.0 10.9 4.6 4.4
Japan 4,438 4,757 8.1 7.2 4.5 4.3
Source: WTO Tourism Highlights 2001
2.5.3 Tourism Market Trends in the Philippines
International Tourist Arrivals
The general trend of arrivals to the Philippines over the past three years shows
a decline in tourist arrivals into the country and no significant change in the
source markets. In 1997, a regional economic crisis hit Asia and negatively
affected arrivals from the main source markets Hardest hit was Korea, which
was one of our fastest growing markets for the Philippines. Coupled with the
lingering effects of the crisis was the temporary shut down and subsequent
reduction of services of Philippine Airlines. Recovery in 1999 was marked by
a slump in arrivals due to the Sipadan and Palawan kidnappings incidents in
2000 and 2001, and cessation of air agreements between the Philippines and
Taiwan. North American markets, which are very sensitive to the peace and
order of the country, have registered a decline in arrivals (see Table 2-7).
Table 2-7: Tourism Arrivals to the Philippines 1996 to 2000
Country 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000
1 United States 373,953 427,431 468,808 463,600 445,043
2 Japan 350,242 367,714 361,631 387,513 390,517
3 Korea 173,910 170,087 81,979 133,068 174,966
4 Hong Kong 149,479 159,606 162,718 160,152 146,858
5 Taiwan 206,708 246,370 185,869 143,810 75,722
6 Australia 87,553 93,949 85,655 77,732 75,706
7 United Kingdom 83,513 95,044 97,704 88,920 74,507
8 Canada 56,852 64,092 66,756 64,986 61,004
9 Germany 60,367 62,595 64,207 62,044 51,131
10 Singapore 43,948 50,344 47,998 51,244 50,276
11 Malaysia 52,080 60,449 49,144 49,667 42,067
12 France 21,027 24,089 25,909 24,462 19,179
Other Countries 389,735 400,753 450,979 463,616 385,193
TOTAL ARRIVALS 2,049,367 2,222,523 2,149,357 2,170,514 1,992,169
Countries ranked based on 2000 arrival figures Source: DOT
Table 2-8: Arrivals from January to September 2000 and 2001
Country 2000 2001 % Change
1 United States 348,639 312,225 -10.4%
2 Japan 304,056 283,668 -6.7%
3 Korea 126,216 150,919 19.6%
4 Hong Kong 111,025 103,175 -7.1%
5 Taiwan 55,358 64,372 16.3%
6 Australia 54,500 49,926 -8.4%
7 United Kingdom 61,257 47,929 -21.8%
8 Canada 44,967 40,169 -10.7%
9 Singapore 34,438 31,391 -8.8%
10 Germany 40,047 31,073 -22.4%
11 Malaysia 33,435 23,144 -30.8%
12 China 11,226 13,665 21.7%
13 India 14,938 12,457 -16.6%
14 Indonesia 12,089 12,095 0.0%
15 France 15,797 11,064 -30.0%
Other Countries 248,711 214,425 -13.8%
TOTAL ARRIVALS 1,516,699 1,401,697 -7.6%
As shown in Table 2 – 8, for the first nine months of 2001, the number of
visitor arrivals has declined by a rate of 7.6 percent over the same period in
2000. China, Korea and Taiwan are the only major source markets showing
positive growth in early 2001.
International Visitor Profiles
The United States with 348,639 arrivals still ranks as the largest international
market accounting for 22 percent of all arrivals to the Philippines in 2000.
This represents about 14 percent of American arrivals to Asia. Visiting friends
and relatives (VFR) (51 percent) and holiday (23 percent) are the main reasons
for travel. As many of this market are balikbayans, travel arrangements are
made independently and tend not to be packaged.
Japan holds second place in terms of arrivals to the Philippines with 390,517
arrivals in 2000, and represents five percent of Japanese arrivals to Asia. As in
the previous years, Japanese travelers are mostly male (__%) and visit the
Philippines for holiday. They arrange their trips independently and many are
Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea rank 3rd, 4th and 5th, respectively. Travelers
from these markets are mostly male, about half are packaged, and they visit
the Philippines for business, golf, beach holidays, gambling and diving. About
half arrive packaged. More than half Singaporeans are travelling on business.
United Kingdom registered 87,089 in 1999, representing only four percent of
UK arrivals to Asia. The typical UK holiday traveler is male, already familiar
with the Philippines, between the ages of 35-54 and travels independently.
The Australian market is more evenly distributed among the holiday, VFR and
business categories. The Philippines accounts for four percent of all Australian
arrivals to Asia.
The Canadian market tends to be older with most in the 35-54 year-old
bracket. Along with German and UK markets, Canadians are generally
seeking quality nature, adventure and cultural products.
General Patterns of Demand in the Philippines
The latest visitor sample survey conducted by the DOT shows that the
majority of visitors from top source markets have come for beach holidays,
sightseeing and shopping combined. Business is the second reason for travel,
and visiting friends and relatives rank third. Scuba diving showed relatively
Destinations most visited out of Metro Manila are Cebu and the Cavite –
Laguna – Tagaytay – Batangas area. This can be attributed to the tourism-
readiness of the areas and their proximity and easy access from Manila.
Likewise, these are also the more developed beach areas, which have several
sightseeing and shopping points en route. Arrivals from the US were more or
less evenly spread out over several provinces, which can be attributed to their
VHR majority purpose of visit. Interestingly their arrivals to Olongapo and
Subic did not compare competitively with Cebu, Baguio and even Bohol. For
the German market, the non-traditional and more rustic destinations of Puerto
Galera, Mindoro, Boracay and Palawan remain the favorites. For the northeast
Asian markets, particularly Taiwan and Korea, Ilocos Norte registered as the
most frequented destination which can be attributed to the presence of casinos.
Other areas frequented offer the same activity i.e. Cebu, Olongapo, and
A 2001 inventory of tours being sold based on nature, culture and adventure
products in natural settings revealed a product mix of:
28 culture based tours
45 nature based tours
23 adventure based tours.
The distinction between what can be considered mainstream nature tourism
and ecotourism products is blurred and hence the inventory takes an inclusive
The inventory indicates that only 25 percent of all the tours are packaged by
private tour companies whilst 70 percent are offered by either DOT or a
provincial or municipal tourism office. The remaining five (5) percent are sold
by a community cooperative or club. As the data are aggregated, some clubs or
community tours may also be included within the tours offered by DOT or
Provincial government offices. It is possible the collection of the data was
weighted towards DOT.
These results, however, strongly suggest that both the private sector and
community-based businesses have a major opportunity to increase their role in
the provision of ecotourism products. By implication this will lead to further
employment and income generation at the local level.
Market Segments Visiting the Philippines
The following market segments have been identified as having current interest
and future potential for ecotourism products in the Philippines. The list was
derived from tourism statistics, site data analysis, site observations, and
discussions with travel industry operators. They were then further developed
from the ETWG survey "Profile of Ecotourism Products in the Philippines"
submitted by DOT Regional offices.
Families. Filipino families are usually day visitors who use private
resorts, public beaches and theme parks during the weekends and
holidays. Considering the short length of time involved for travel, their
trips are usually to destinations an hour or an hour-and-a-half away
from their residences. Common as well are families traveling together,
and most often times include family "extensions" such as grandparents,
aunts/uncles and caregivers / house help.
On the other hand, higher-end Filipinos arrange their trips for long
weekends to more popular destinations such as Baguio, Batangas and
even those with an air travel component – Cebu, Bohol or Palawan.
These trips are usually individually arranged (transport and
accommodations), length of trip is about two or three nights, and travel
party is composed of three to five family members.
Students. Student groups usually take day trips in relation to the
school’s academic curriculum. The educational trips are most often an
annual school undertaking covering all levels of primary and secondary
levels. Travelling in busloads, they visit factories, historical sites,
science exhibits or centers and end the trip with lunch and leisure time
in a park. Students in the collegiate level. However, travel in peer
groups of five to 12. The trips they take involve cramming the group in
1 or two cars, going to the beach or mountainside and staying for a
night or two. Most of these are planned for long weekends and
Club members. Domestic special interest tourists are, at present,
broken down into two dominant activities: mountain climbing and
scuba diving. They commonly organize their trips with the associations
or clubs to which they are affiliated, as clubs have better
connections/linkages with the required service providers (dive masters
and guides, trail guides and porters). Likewise, they also connect with
buddies and know about planned trips through gear/dive shops and
other outdoor equipment or similar specialty stores. Another up-
coming group are the mountain bikers, who are now into day trips to
Tagaytay, Cavite and sometimes, Batangas. Some trips to offshore
destinations such as Guimaras have already been arranged as special
Some of the associations are school-based, making the general age
group between 20 to 29. Young professionals, however, keep their
affiliations with their associations even after school. Others organize
similar clubs within their areas of work.
Another steady source of domestic tourists are those traveling for
office-initiated extra-curricular activities such as team-building
workshops, fun-runs, family day, office mini-olympics and other social
activities. Though most of these have planned programs and set
activities to cover just a day, some participants bring along friends or
family and extend their stay.
Pilgrims. Filipinos consider their hometown fiestas as good reasons to
travel back home. They usually travel with peer groups or families, and
stay in a relative or friend’s house for the duration of the festival,
which is commonly three days. The same is true for other religious
holidays such as Holy Week, All Soul’s Day and Christmas/New Year
season. In recent years, these travelers visit destinations of nearby
provinces, maximizing vacation time and travel costs expended.
There are groups, however, who travel to undertake their yearly
spiritual devotions (panata), which is comprised of church visitation,
participation in processions, completing the Way of the Cross, etc.
These groups go with family members, despite only one of them
performing the religious obligations.
Balikbayans. These groups, mostly from North America, arrive as a
family of four or five and sometimes, with a couple of Caucasian
friends. Though they used to stay in their relative’s homes while in the
country, the trend lately points to staying at inexpensive
accommodation establishments (pensions, inns), where they can cook
their own meals, entertain guests, etc. Further, they now travel out of
their hometowns and visit other tourist destinations. In recent years,
Boracay, Cebu and Davao have been favorites.
International Travelers on Packaged Tours. Visitors from major
source markets who avail of packaged tours have matured from the
usual city-to-city or inter-city tours to more nature-oriented or
adventure-based experiences. In most instances, these destinations
cannot accommodate high tourist volumes and therefore need ground
handling prior to their arrival (pre-booking). For more high-capacity
destinations (Cebu, Davao and Baguio, for example); however, tourists
usually pre-arrange their accommodations, intra-country flights and
airport transfers. The actual arrangements for tours, activities and
transport are often completed upon arrival, although some popular
scenic tours are included within a package booked in the source
market. This type of travel used to be very typical of Westerners alone,
specifically Europeans, but now the Japanese, Koreans and Hong Kong
Chinese have adopted the same type of travel arrangements. The
Taiwanese have kept to packages as these usually involve gaming. The
Mainland Chinese, on the other hand, are still in the less mature stage
of city touring and, therefore, stick to packaged tours as well.
Free and Independent Travelers. FITs are most often seen carrying
travel guide books (Lonely Planet, Survival Kit to the Philippines,
Action Asia) and at the tourism offices and establishments requesting
information on destinations to visit, transportation to take and places to
stay. They are mostly European who travel in small groups of three or
four. Even in destinations where sites are almost unknown, they prefer
to travel without guides from the area.
Expatriates living in the Philippines. Expatriates, mostly Westerners,
have somehow adopted the seasonality travel patterns of the Filipinos
as they follow the same work week schedule. Three-day weekends are
usually spent for golf, jet skiing, scuba diving or simple rest and
relaxation in exclusive resorts, of which their corporations are
members. They travel by land, bring their own vehicle (jet-skis in tow)
accompanied by co-expatriates and/or one or two family members.
Longer holidays are usually spent in their own countries and timed
with their periodic company vacations.
Scuba Diving. Recreational diving has been one of the more stable
niche markets of the country. A decade ago, most of the divers were
westerners making special arrangements through friends, the NTO and
even directly with the LGUs for special dive arrangements and
requirements. Currently, with the development of this sector’s
organization and improvement of facilities and services, it now
captures more North Asians, who avail of packages to Cebu, Bohol and
Palawan. Sea flora and fauna are still the major draw, although some
request for wreck dive sites.
Other Special Interest Travelers. These groups have been gaining
ground collectively, although will not register significant volumes per
Foreign mountaineers have been coming in trickles, mostly European.
This may be attributed to the unavailability of trekking/ascend
packages in the markets and at the same time, the difficulty in pre-
There is a significant volume of foreign religious visitors who come for
seminars, conferences, outreach programs or as part of their vocational
duties. Though they confine their activities to religious undertakings
during their stay, this market may be tapped as a potential leisure
market after their duties have been fulfilled.
Tourists engaging in other nature-based activities such as bird
watching, caving, and other similar, less popular activities have most
often availed of these trips only as a secondary or coincidental purpose
2.5.4 Global Trends Affecting Tourism
In tourism circles, ecotourism and/or nature-based tourism have become
widely acknowledged to be a valuable part of a destination’s product mix.
Encompassing soft adventure, culture, activity, wildlife, village and rural
tourism, ecotourism is based on the outdoors, usually in remote and unspoiled
natural or cultural surroundings. This interest has come about largely because,
over the past two decades, an awareness of the environment in which we live,
a concern for the fragility of the planet, and an appreciation of traditional
cultures has spread from the concern of a few to a preoccupation amongst
many educated travelers.
As interest in personal fitness and sport has grown, and patterns of travel have
changed from people who want to just come and look, to people who prefer to
participate and understand. The world has become smaller, and improved
accessibility, higher disposable incomes and increasing leisure time mean that
more people expect to travel regularly. There is a trend for a number of "short
break" trips during the year.
Many discerning travelers have "been everywhere" and the trend is for the
mass markets to be fragmenting into niche and special interest markets seeking
quality experiences with specific themes such as nature, wildlife or adventure.
Wildlife viewing in Borneo, trekking in the Himalaya, and whale watching in
New Zealand are the kind of holidays nature travelers take in the early 2000s.
An important aspect to ecotourism trips is a concern for heritage and how local
peoples live and interact with their cultural and natural environment.
Many visitors will pay well for a unique experience. Factors important to these
fast growing market segments are that the products must be authentic and
"real", there must be things to do and learn, and facilities must be relatively
comfortable. Time is often a constraint so accessibility is important.
Environmental and conservation concerns are paramount to these markets.
Nature seeking tourists are often in their 40s and upwards and traditionally
come from Western Europe and North America with more recently from
Japan. Other Asian nationalities are likely to follow the trend in the medium to
long term. As a broad generalization, Europeans are observed to be seeking
culture and lifestyle experiences, North Americans like wilderness and nature
products, and Asian markets prefer to undertake specific activities in the
outdoors. Specialized tour wholesalers and operators have emerged in source
markets to cater to these travelers, offering a depth of knowledge of a
destination and experienced guiding. NTOs in Asia and the Pacific region
have dedicated many millions of dollars in promotion to attract these strong
and lucrative market segments. Prominent examples include recent successful
campaigns in Thailand, Malaysia, the Mekong Region and Australia.
There is a general trend towards quality throughout the travel industry as
markets become more demanding, sophisticated and experienced. This means
that today's travelers will pay for value enhanced products, but will seek value
for money and quality services throughout the full range of tourism products,
from budget to top end.
Independent Travelers (FITs)
Many of the world's growing FIT segments, some of whom are maturing away
from the younger budget travelers, will also seek out nature tourism
destinations, preferring a more flexible and individual style of travel but still
demanding an authentic experience. Although some FIT segments may not
wish to spend money on accommodation, research shows they will pay well
for a unique ecotourism product or activity. With a significant ratio of inbound
leisure visitors traveling independently without prior bookings, the Philippines
is already experiencing and responding to this FIT demand.
Taking a regional approach to tourism marketing by combining promotional
efforts is now widely acknowledged as providing economies of scale, added
value and sharing power unattainable by individual destinations. Advantages
include the stretching of budgets, faster growth in destination awareness,
greater media exposure, earlier product positioning, more effective branding
and allegiance building, and more rapid penetration into target markets.
The fostering of domestic tourism is widely recognized as a means of keeping
the tourism revenue at home, upgrading living standards and achieving
national objectives. There is a growing realization that international tourism
can contribute recreational, sport, leisure and educational facilities to host
2.5.5 Ecotourism Trends in the Philippines
For the past two or three years, ecotourism in the Philippines has slowly been
gaining attention as a form or purpose of travel. The private sector noted that
tourists from our major source markets have matured from the usual city-to-
city tours to the more nature- or adventure-based type of experience.
Several products have recently been highlighted, but more for their better
environmental or cultural-oriented practices, and less on the aspects of
tourism. Nevertheless, these have been given some focus by private tourism
product developers in coordination with their respective local government
Northern Palawan, for example, has always been tagged as the country’s last
frontier due to its preserved marine life and unique limestone landscapes.
Learning from the unfortunate experiences of other destinations that have been
poorly developed, Palawan has focused its efforts to the conservation of these
resources and has capitalized on them as their tourist attractions.
Several provinces throughout the country are now undertaking the same type
of careful and well-planned development. The hindering factor, however, for
their actual development is the lack of knowledge on product development
(physical) and interpretation (experiential), collaboration amongst several
stakeholders within the area and linkages with the other sectors of the industry,
particularly with regard to promotions.
Protected Area Visitors
To have an idea of the volume of tourists currently visiting ecotourism
products, visitor counts to select protected areas, natural parks and other
adventure destinations are taken into consideration. Latest statistics (1998)
from PAWB show that about 572,000 domestic and 7,600 foreign tourists
visited protected areas. Several of the sites, though nature parks, are highly
urbanized and have been attracting excursionists and students on educational
trips. For example, the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Nature Center in
Quezon City accounted for 63 percent of the total domestic visitor figures.
Furthermore, in some areas visited by ETWG members, the monitoring visitor
arrivals has been very relaxed and many visitors are left uncounted.
Therefore, a more detailed and categorized visitor count should be developed
for better monitoring and study. The numbers in the Table 2-9 are likely,
therefore, to be much higher.
Table 2-9: Total Visitors to Protected Areas of the Philippines 1995 to 2000
Number of Visitors Total
Local Foreign Number of Income
Year Male Female Total Male Female Total Visitors Generated
1995 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 639,291 4,611,705.00
1996 323,901 328,300 652,201 4,445 4,010 8,455 660,656 4,623,124.00
1997 349,870 296,470 646,340 2,507 4,655 7,162 653,502 5,716,229.00
1998 317,003 254,765 571,768 3,805 3,798 7,603 579,371 5,298,533.50
1999 334,525 295,385 629,910 2,864 2,258 5,122 635,032 5,400,290.50
2000 301,679 262,007 563,686 5,447 4,335 9,782 573,468 5,725,618.20
Source: PAWB, DENR
Northern Palawan has been one of the favorite places for ecotourism,
successfully beating market trends. Almost 10,000 tourists visited El Nido
resorts in 2000, an increase of more than 100 percent over 1999 figures of
4,419. The top source markets are Japan, Korea and the domestic market. Next
is North America, followed by Europe both of which have suffered recent
downturns. Most travelers are within the ages of 20-39, equally distributed
between genders and mostly stay for two nights. Even higher than the
percentage of special interest travelers (divers, cavers, etc.) are honeymooners,
who accounted for about 31 percent of arrivals in 2000, many of them from
Korea. General leisure registered almost 43 percent.
Caving is another nature-based activity currently gaining popularity especially
amongst domestic markets. Callao Caves in Pinablanca, for example, have
been receiving a good share of visitors from nearby provinces of Kalinga and
Isabela, especially pilgrims during Holy Week. Other months would register
an average of 500 or 600 tourists, concentrated on weekends and holidays.
Foreign visitors accounted for less than five percent of arrivals, mostly from
North Asia and some from Europe. Caving activities are combined with river
trip activities and a visit to the bat cave.
Olango Island sanctuary in Cebu is acclaimed for its migratory birds and "best
practices" cooperation amongst all of the area’s stakeholders. Since it
officially began its operations in January 1999, an estimated 800 to 900
tourists have experienced Olango, from a number of source markets led by
Japan and North America.
Camiguin Island in Northern Mindanao (Region 10) is a popular destination
due to its natural features and remote setting. Identified by Green Globe as an
ecotourism destination, the province has been receiving a good volume of both
domestic and foreign tourists. The latest Visitor Sample Survey indicates that
it ranks among the top four destinations visited by domestic regional tourists.
Europe is a major international source market, followed by North America.
The bulk of visits are during the first semester of the year and include many
2.5.6 Implications for Ecotourism
The studies of general travel patterns and ecotourism trends in the global,
regional and local scenarios, reveal that implications to ecotourism in the
Philippines would be that:
The domestic market is the country’s main market for ecotourism. Though
a lower yield market composed of student groups and young professionals,
it can be banked on for a stable volume and less sensitive type of tourists.
A campaign is needed to raise awareness of environmental issues and
Philippines ecotourism attractions to combat domestic travel’s strongest
competitor, "malling" to attain long term management objectives.
Due to their strength, Asian visitors have the strongest market potential for
ecotourism in the short to medium term, specifically Japan, Korea and
The traditional Western markets for ecotourism are likely to be more long-
term in the Philippines due to the security situation.
Ecotourism products in the country are, contrary to common belief,
available. Existing ones, however, need to be strengthened and enhanced,
while new products have to be created, with sites better interpreted.
Destination circuit development has to be undertaken to be able to offer a
more appealing package for tourists and to involve the private sector.
2.6 TOURISM MARKETING
2.6.1 Government Marketing
Government marketing of tourism in the Philippines is coordinated by the
Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Philippine Convention and Visitors
Corporation (PCVC) and along four main lines:
Product research and development
Market research (statistics, reports and studies)
Formulation of communications and marketing policies, thrusts and
International and domestic promotions
2.6.2 Product Market Research
There is a lack of quality information about tourism source markets within
DOT and PCVC. The link between knowing market preferences and equating
these with the appropriate tourism product remains weak. More information is
also needed on specific activities undertaken during travel to the Philippines
on source markets.
In 1991, after the completion of the Tourism Master Plan, the Office of
Product Research and Development (OPRD) was internally realigned to
handle specific regions in the country, i.e., Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
However product research and design appears to have been given a lesser
priority, second to product planning and destination development arising
from the realignment of the OPRD’s functions.
Nevertheless, existing data are processed and combined into a marketing plan,
wherein tourist-ready products are matched with potential markets. The plan
also lays out the marketing policies, thrusts and directions to be taken per
major market. No particular emphasis has been given to ecotourism.
Whenever a potential site is deemed tourist-ready, an invitational
familiarization trip is conducted amongst the members of the Philippine
tourism industry, particularly the tour operators. They are taken on a trip to dry
run or inspect the sites that are ready for selling, to directly coordinate with the
destination’s tourism sectors (transport, accommodations, guides, etc.) and to
come up with a package and price/rate ranges.
At times, when the product being newly offered is a re-packaging of an
existing destination or a newly interpreted but current product, the packages
are formulated by the DOT/PCVC and introduced to the tour wholesalers for
sale and promotion.
DOT and PCVC coordinate promotional events such as sales missions and
trade fairs for destination selling. Private sector participants regularly form a
consortium in order to evenly distribute the business generated.
PCVC participates in major trade fairs, such as Internationale Tourismus
Borse (ITB) in Berlin, World Travel Mart (WTM) in London and Japan
Association of Travel Agents (JATA) Congress in Japan, and other fairs in
major markets. Multi-city sales missions often accompany these events. DOT
overseas offices conduct sales presentations and sales calls to select tour
Consumer promotions such as food festivals in hotel chains, Philippine
holiday events (especially Philippine Independence Day), cultural shows and
fiestas are also being conducted on a regular basis.
The PCVC conducts its Invitational Travel Program, in which members of the
travel trade and media are invited on familiarization trips to visit sites in the
Philippines, with the purpose of orienting front-liners and decision makers on
the Philippines’ tourism products.
2.6.3 Private Sector Marketing
Private sector operators link promotional efforts with PCVC’s destination
marketing at trade fairs, consumer events, sales missions and other
promotional events. Two elected representatives sit in the PCVC Board of
Trustees. Packaging and pricing is normally undertaken by the private sector.
There are times when DOT PCVC requests special rates for product campaign
launches, off-season selling, image crisis management, etc.
As profit-oriented entities, the private sector engage in marketing their tourism
products and packages. Hotels and resorts, for example, tie-up with their
chains for collective promotion efforts in target markets. Tour operators
nurture direct links with tour operator counterparts abroad.
Aside from their own efforts with business partners abroad, the private sector
generate business leads through participation in DOT PCVC-initiated
2.6.4 Market Images
With the country undergoing political and economic changes over the past 10
years, the volatile tourism industry and the destination image has kept its focus
on general leisure and promoteable business travel such as conventions and
incentives. Frequent changes in promotional campaigns have hindered the
establishment of a strong tourism image for the Philippines. The main image
being projected to the markets continues to be that of islands and beaches,
supplemented by rich culture and history. Overcoming negative images
associated with “girls, golf and gambling” remains a priority for DOT.
Many promotional campaigns did not have their full impact due to lack of
funds and changes in the administration.
“Where Asia Wears a Smile” was the original DOT promotion that ran
from 1973 to 1987.
"There’s a Fiesta for Everyone" projects the country as a year-round
destination for festivals.
"Yes. The Philippines. Now." was used to anchor tourism promotions on
the "new" Philippines after the 1986 People Power Revolution
"Fiesta Islands Philippines" projected the country as a cultural destination
borne by its various festivals.
"Islands Philippines, Our Islands Have It All", launched in 1991 was
probably DOT’s best and longest-running promotional campaign with sub-
campaigns such as Dive Philippines, Golf Philippines, etc.
"Philippines: The Best of the Islands" was launched in 1996, for the APEC
"Rediscovery Philippines" was launched in 1998 focusing on the country’s
culture and history as tourism’s best selling feature.
Despite that lack of resources, the "7000 Times More…" campaign was
launched, and carried a more contemporary "digitized" look.
Currently, “WOW Philippines” is the promotional campaign on the
Department. WOW, for Wealth of Wonders, uses four images: the tarsier,
Puerto Princesa Underground River National Park, wreck dive site, and
Boracay beach. In addition, the current “Volunteer 12” is aimed at
tapping the seven million Filipinos working and living abroad as
tourism promoters. This program is envisioned to further stimulate
and boost visitor arrivals to the Philippines.
2.6.5 Competitive Destinations
Other Asian countries are the country’s competitors due to similarity in
ecotourism products offered. In order to assess the level of these country’s
involvement in ecotourism, several brochures from the main markets of
France, United Kingdom, Australia and Japan were analyzed and similar
products and prices compared.
In France, similar product offerings amongst the Philippines, Indonesia, Laos
PDR, Nepal, India and Uzbekistan were mountain and volcano treks, and
tribal village tours. The highest cost was FF18,700, while the lowest was
offered by the Philippines with FF13,000 (Banaue Rice Terraces). The tribal
village tour to the T’boli’s at Lake Sebu was tagged at FF13,500 non-peak
FF17,500 peak. Between Indonesia and the Philippines, similar products are
jungle treks and river-based activities (kayaking / banca rides). The Palawan
package was offered at FF10,000 while Sulawesi was offered at FF18,400.
In Japan, Philippine packages are also competitively priced. There is a
significant difference, however, in the type of product being sold. The
Philippines offers Palawan’s Tagbanua Family’s Honey Hunting tribal life
experience, while Malaysia offers a wider variety of products ranging from
wildlife observation, cave exploration, and mangrove boat cruises. Despite
Cebu being in the same brochure, there was no mention of ecotourism
destinations such as the Olango Bird Sanctuary, Bohol’s Cambuhat, Loboc
River Cruise or Chocolate Hills.
Australia, Malaysia and Indonesia are flooding tour operators with packages of
different types of ecotourism and nature-based experiences: rainforests, jungle
treks, safaris, tribal village tours, etc. Thailand offers nature appreciation,
tribal village and elephant safaris; Vietnam offers culture whilst the
Philippines trips consist only of the Sagada-Bontoc-Banaue circuit and the
Feedback from the DOT office in the United Kingdom states that: "In the
internal organizations of most tour operators in the UK, the Philippines is
handled by personnel in charge of Vietnam, Cambodia/Laos PDR (which are
regularly packaged with Thailand) and Africa. In short, the Philippines is
looked at as "emerging and sometimes even unusual destination". Despite
Vietnam’s lack of infrastructure, it is outpacing the Philippines in terms of
attractiveness and "mystique". Even cruises to the Far East include more
Vietnam than Philippines (Manila)".
In comparing the type of promotional materials distributed within the markets
and the way their websites are developed, it is obvious that the Philippines is
not within the same playing field as Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. These
countries have come up with a nature-based branding of promotions, and have
spun around from the traditional sun, sand and sea attractions. They are
already on their second wave of products, with materials made exclusively for
ecotourism destinations and packages, while the Philippines has yet to develop
its base circuits, satellite destinations and activities.
2.6.6 Ecotourism Marketing
Ecotourism in the Philippines is still in its infant stage. Membership or
representation in ecotourism/nature-based organizations is negligible.
Promotional activities conducted target the general leisure market, with
occasional participation in dive shows.
There may be upcoming projects such as white-water rafting and other nature-
based activities. However, inasmuch as the areas wherein these sites are
located have relatively young tourism industries, local tour operators find
some difficulty in coordinating tours and coming up with effective or
profitable packages. The RECs through the DOT regional offices have to
address the need to create awareness among local communities and forge
collaboration with the private sector and other institutions to develop the
areas for ecotourism.
Much has yet to be done in marketing terms to fully harness the as yet
unrecognized potential of ecotourism. Programs should be designed in order to
achieve the following:
A market information base for ecotourism could be established as a
priority to further understand:
Tourist volumes and growth to specific sites and protected areas, and
collectively, growth in tourist visits engaged in certain type of nature-
based and ecotourism activity
Demographic profile of visitors
Other travel-related information such as travel arrangements, source of
destination information, average daily expenditure, etc.
Information about current and potential ecotourism market segments
Further market segmentation details will be useful for both
promotional thrusts and product development directions
Promotions specific to ecotourism, using a network of Key Sites, to refresh
and focus the market image and attract higher-yield quality markets
There is a great need for the appropriate type of product development, in
order for suitable products to be branded as an ecotourism site
For the same reason the ETWG was created, there could be an established
network of linkages between destinations or sites, and the DOT and DENR
for product development, enhancement and marketing, and with the private
sector for packaging and promotions
A data base and monitoring system is needed by which ecotourism
marketing objectives can be compared to actual results to enable the
modification of marketing directions and strategies, if required.
2.7 TRANSPORT ISSUES
2.7.1 Vision in the Tourism Master Plan
The Tourism Master Plan spelled out the policy of developing three
development clusters (Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao) whereby each cluster
should be served by one or two major international gateways and linked to a
variety of satellite destinations. This required an adjustment of policy in the air
transport sector where it hss necessitated the:
Adoption of a more flexible approach in approving inbound air inclusive
charters and providing scheduled air services on the part of other carriers
Designation of new domestic and international carriers to service
secondary airports in the country
Expansion of domestic and international terminal facilities
Deregulation of domestic air operations to foster greater competition on
The Master Plan’s main thrust with water and land transportation was the
upgrading and development of road connections between air and seaports, and
tourism centers better known as the inter-modal transport system. Focus
was also given to the development of inter-island cruising activities for foreign
markets, and the improvement of domestic ferry services in the Philippines.
2.7.2 Current Situation
Major policy shifts in air, water and land transportation were initiated to
address critical bottlenecks in trade, industry, tourism and investments.
Development thrusts during the past five years have leaned towards
liberalization and deregulation, resulting in the expansion of transport systems
supporting regional growth areas, zones and corridors. The three original
tourism development clusters have since been expanded to include:
Laoag/Baguio, Clark/Subic, Manila, Cebu and Davao.
The Philippines’ main international air access is through the Ninoy Aquino
International Airport (NAIA) in Manila. NAIA is currently being serviced by
approximately 34 airlines (see Annex __). Travelers can also enter the
Philippines via Cebu City. The Mactan-Cebu International Airport handles
both regular and chartered flights from Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan
and South Korea while the Davao International Airport handles flights from
Singapore and Manado, Indonesia. Laoag International Airport in North Luzon
services flights from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Guangzhou.
Philippine Airlines (PAL) the national flag carrier, services a route network of
18 on line points in 12 countries, and seven points in four countries on joint
service basis with other airlines. This includes daily services from Manila to
San Francisco, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Singapore.
In terms of weekly air seats, the Philippines lags behind ASEAN neighbors. In
1999, the Philippines had 106,657 weekly air seats, lower than Malaysia
(299,409), Thailand (310,491) and Singapore (359,314).
Liberalization of the aviation industry in 1995 opened new domestic airlines
and established new international airlines that now service routes once
dominated by Philippine Air Lines (PAL). The progressive liberalization
policy adopted has proven to be beneficial, especially in the domestic sector.
The traveling public now enjoys several choices in airlines and lower fares as
a result of increased competition. The number of domestic air passengers grew
by an average of 5.37 percent from 1996 to 2000.
In terms of infrastructure, the opening of the NAIA Terminal II decongested
the old terminal and the NAIA Terminal I. The runway of Davao International
Airport was upgraded and lengthened and can now accommodate larger
In general, direct air access to some of the more remote but popular
ecotourism areas (such as El Nido, Palawan, Siargao Island and Batanes
Islands) has improved along with improved linkages between air and sea
The liberalization and deregulation of the shipping industry de-monopolized
and expanded services, benefiting both passengers and operators. The
domestic shipping industry has been through a major improvement, enabling
Philippine seas to be traversed by bigger, faster, more sophisticated and
reliable vessels. The private sector responded by replacing their fleet, and
upgrading and replacing alternative services such as fast ferries and luxury
liners. However, more stringent safety regulations for the vessel, the crew and
shore management are needed.
Road access to ecotourism sites has improved in the last decade. Donor
agencies have been largely responsible for funding improvements to the
Philippines’ highway network. Access to and within the five major hubs has
led to a noticeable increase in use in some areas, for instance, Subic Bay and
2.7.3 Future Plans
The Medium Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) for 2001 – 2004
outlines the future prospects in the transport system.
The country’s accessibility to visitors will be improved by negotiating more
and better air service agreements (ASA) with partner countries to increase
weekly air seat capacity to levels at par with ASEAN neighbors. Air carriers
of countries with which the Philippines has bilateral ASAs will be encouraged
to maximize utilization of their entitlements. A “trigger mechanism” will be
institutionalized to facilitate the operationalization of additional seat capacity
beyond the entitlement allowed in the pertinent ASA. This will automatically
allow an airline already operating at an average load factor of 70 percent to
add more seats to immediately respond to demand increase without the need
The upgrading of domestic airports to international standards will improve
Major port development and modernization projects will be undertaken during
2001-2004, particularly in Batangas, Iloilo, Davao, General Santos,
Zamboanga, Manila North and South Harbor, as well as Cagayan de Oro,
Capiz and Albay.
Local roads shall be planned and developed to complement national roads,
especially in improving access to priority tourism areas.
2.7.4 Implications for Ecotourism
Improved international air access linkages
Proximity of regional airports to ecotourism destinations/national parks
Availability of fast ferry services
Frequency of scheduled flights, shipping and bus trips
Upgrading of transport services.
2.8 ACCOMMODATION ISSUES
2.8.1 Tourist Facilities
Tourist accommodation facilities in the Philippines range from economy and
luxury hotels and resorts with complete amenities, to budget tourist inns and
family-run home stays.
As could be gleaned from Table 2 – 10, the total number of accommodation
establishments increased form 2,281 in 1994 to 3,816 in 1998, or a growth rate
of 67.29 percent. The hotel sector increased by 49 percent, resort sector by 145
percent while tourist inns and apartels grew by 32 percent and 34 percent,
respectively. Of the total accommodation establishments in 1998, hotels
accounted for 45.49 percent, resorts for 34.51 percent, tourist inns for 17.35
percent and apartels 2.65 percent
Table 2-10: Types of Accommodation in the Philippines 1994 and 1998
Hotels Resorts T. Inns Apartels
This expansion of the accommodation sector can be attributed to growing
demand for hotel accommodation during the period due to increased visitor
traffic. The holding of various events such as the APEC in 1996 also called for
the modernization and expansion of hotels particularly in Metro Manila. With
the declaration of Visit Philippines Year in 2003, existing accommodation
establishments are expected to expand and upgrade facilities while new
entrants are anticipated.
In terms of regional distribution, data from the tourism situation reports of the
DOT regional offices (reference Table 2 – 11) show that the National Capital
Region (NCR), Central Luzon (Region III) Southern Tagalog (Region IV),
Western Visayas (Region VI), and Central Visayas (Region VII) account for
the greatest number of accommodation establishments. The hotel sector is
largely concentrated in the Metro Manila area, reflecting its role as the
national capital and main international gateway. The resort sector is generally
dispersed outside Metro Manila with Regions IV, VI, VII and XI accounting
for the most number of resorts.
Table 2-11: Accommodation by Region
Region No. of Establishments
Research has indicated domestic travelers’ selection of hotels and other
lodging facilities is affected mainly by three factors: competitive pricing;
availability of facilities and services and type and extent of free services (i.e.,
local calls, continental breakfast, etc.)
While tourist accommodation facilities are generally available in the country’s
main destinations, facilities within and around ecotourism sites such as
protected areas are very few, if any. Of the more than 200 protected areas
identified by the Department of Environment & Natural Resources, only a few
offer basic lodging facilities, while some are limited for use of the park’s staff.
Ecotourism lodges, as seen elsewhere in Asia (e.g. Nepal) do not exist to the
same extent in the Philippines. However, villages around these areas
sometimes offer home stays for the more adventurous travelers. A limited
number of camps and cabins (for instance, Eden Resort near Davao City) in
semi-natural settings have been developed over the last five years.
With the growing interest in ecotourism in the Philippines, the following needs
Careful planning for the construction of accommodation in or near Key
There is a need for sensitive, creative local design for accommodation in
The Homestay Program of the DOT is further encouraged; and
Linkages between the DOT and LGUs for licensing and accreditation
standards should be strengthened.
2.9 SUPPORT SERVICES
To ensure the safety, comfort and convenience of visitors to ecotourism sites,
development of support services and the establishment of basic utilities such
as water, electricity, sewerage and garbage disposal are needed.
Approximately 40 percent of areas along major highways leading to
ecotourism sites are well served with public telecommunication facilities. The
advent of new telecommunication technology such as cellular phones has
provided access even in remote areas of the country. Currently, satellite
phones are also being introduced at a reasonable cost to cover remote areas.
Electricity is available in densely populated areas. Due to high power costs,
the distribution of electricity in remote areas is limited. The government is
seeking to address this issue through the privatization of the National Power
Corporation and, thus, the generation, distribution and supply aspects of the
Water supply service in far-flung areas such as national parks and other
ecotourism sites is limited to levels 1 and 2 such as spring boxes and small
water impoundment. Most of the existing ecotourism sites do not have
established sewage systems.
2.9.2 General Tourist Information
Maps and guidebooks for tourists are distributed in various tourism
information counters and hotel lobbies as well as the regional offices of the
DOT. Other guidebooks such as Lonely Planet, Action Asia Adventure,
Philippine Guidebook and the like can be found in major bookstores. In
general, there is a lack of specific information on ecotourism areas for visitors
in the Philippines.
2.9.3 Rescue and Medical Services
Organized professional and volunteer rescue services in the Philippines is in
the early stages of development. The National Disaster Coordinating Council
spearheads rescue operations during national emergencies and calamities.
Other organizations such as the Philippine National Red Cross, 505th Rescue
Team (under the Philippine Air Force) and others provide rescue services. The
Bureau of Fire and Protection is in the process of institutionalizing rescue
operations under its special units in the provinces. Currently there are five
established rescue centers in Subic Bay, AFP Medical Center in Manila, Cebu,
Cavite and an Evacuation Assistance Center in Pasay City.
Some ecotourism-related activities like diving, safety standards are taken
seriously. Most resorts have good equipment and well-trained instructors and
dive masters. Currently, there are three recompression chambers in the
country, in Manila, Subic and Cebu, while a fourth one in Batangas has been
Health care systems in the Philippines are generally good and with reasonable
fees. Metro Manila offers world-standard medical facilities (Makati Medical
Center in Makati and St. Luke’s Hospital in Quezon City are generally
acknowledged as the best in the country). Major cities outside Metro Manila
have well-equipped hospitals and can diagnose and treat most injuries and
illnesses. Provincial capitals have hospitals with basic equipment and supplies
that are adequate for minor cases. Most municipalities have Rural Health Units
that are usually staffed by a doctor and a nurse, though several towns may
share one doctor in remote areas.
A major issue concerning the development of ecotourism in the country is
security. Events such as the Sipadan and Palawan kidnappings and the terrorist
attacks in the US have led to an increase in security operations in most large
urban areas and key tourism destinations.
There is a need for additional rescue operations and standard operating
procedures in case of emergencies and accidents for ecotourism activities
such as climbing, caving, rafting etc.
Additional recompression chambers are needed in dive destinations
Establishment of observation platforms, view decks and tourism
information at ecotourism sites
Establishment of ecologically sound garbage and sewage disposal systems
in ecotourism sites particularly in remote areas
Strengthened/ institutionalized linkages and coordination with
authorities with regard to security.
This section briefly reviews the current state of knowledge and practice
associated with socio-cultural and economic impacts of ecotourism in the
Philippines. A case study approach has been adopted to illustrate the salient
positive and negative features of ecotourism impacts as they occur in the
Philippines. Implications for this strategy have been drawn from the case
2.10.2 Environmental and Socio-cultural Impacts and Tourism
The 1991 Tourism Master Plan reported that the Philippines natural and
cultural environment have been substantially altered by human activity. Much
of the forests cover in the mountains and foothills has disappeared, a
considerable proportion of the coastal mangroves has been removed to make
way for fish farming, while over-fishing is threatening to reduce the diversity
and stability of the area’s coastal marine resources. These issues are
inextricably linked to poverty, over population and competing land uses.
To illustrate the practical and positive impacts that can arise from ecotourism,
the following case study examples are presented. There are also a number of
practical examples that illustrate the importance of managing potential adverse
impacts and learning lessons from these experiences.
Olango Birds and Seascape Tour (OBST)
Olango Island, situated 5.5 kilometers east of Mactan Island in the province of
Cebu is a protected wetland with international importance due to the high
number of migratory bird species. With assistance from USAID, the Coastal
Resource Management Project (CRMP) of DENR, Olango Island Bird and
Seascape Tour was developed since 1997 as a community-based tourism
development that provides alternative livelihood for island residents.
Over 1,000 tourists have taken the Birds and Seascape Tour since operations
started in 1999. The tour is managed and operated by the community who
formed themselves into a cooperative. The project facilitated the organization
and empowerment of two villages to participate in identifying management
goals, priorities and policies on their natural environment, make
representations to LGUs and visiting organizations.
Because of proper planning and coordination with the communities, the
project has been successful in making the community become real stewards of
protecting their environment, and created pride and self respect in promoting
their area as an ecotourism destination while at the same time generating
One of the best destinations for scuba diving in the country, the famous
Tubbataha Reef also inscribed in the World Heritage List can generate
around P1.6 Million in fees and permits for its three-month dive season. Good
management has engaged the active participation of various stakeholders in
protection and tourism, supported by WWF KKP, LGUs and other concerned
agencies, to ensure the sustainable use of the marine resources. A participatory
management style has established local enterprises for the community through
the development of micro-credit systems.
Donsol Whale Shark Encounters
Whale sharks are the largest fish in the world and grow up to 60ft. in length.
Congregating in the coastal waters of Donsol in Sorsogon, whale sharks are
threatened because of the strong demand for their meat and fins. In 1998,
WWF Kaban Kalikasan ng Pilipinas (KKP) introduced the concept of
ecotourism to the community to promote the protection of whale sharks as
well as derive local benefits therefrom.
Ecotourism activity in Donsol has created an awareness to conserve the whale
shark amongst the local community, and contributed to a national conservation
strategy. However, significant local benefits have yet to devolve to the
community due to competition between village operators and a low profile in
the market place. Whale shark hunting in other parts of the Philippines and
overseas threatens the future of the resource, yet based on global trends in
marine mammal watching, Donsol has substantial potential to be a ‘must-do’
for nature and adventure travellers.
2.10.3 Economic Impacts and Ecotourism
There are many community-based tourism projects and resort developments
that have created positive economic benefits for local residents. Selected case
studies illustrate this:
Pinatubo Community-based Trekking
Trekking to the crater lake of the Pinatubo Volcano is a popular ecotourism
activity that has provided economic opportunities to the residents of Brgy Sta.
Juliana in Capas, Tarlac Province. A DOT-organized community-managed
visitor center makes arrangement for guides and porters to include local
Aetas. Estimated visitor arrivals range from 200 to 300 persons monthly, with
an average expenditure of P2,000 per tourist. The bulk of the amount that
tourists pay directly to the community cooperative goes to transportation,
food, porters and guides, and community and environmental fees.
Bais Dolphin Watching Tours
The Bais Dolphin Watching tours from Bais organized by Bais City LGU in
the Tañon Strait has successfully brought revenue to local communities.
Started as an environmental education exercise by marine biologists, the
dolphin tours’ office now takes reservations, charters boats, arranges guides,
and monitors the marine mammal activity. Five specially converted pump
boats (two LGU-operated and three privately owned) are available daily
throughout the year. The average percentage of dolphin sightings by visitors is
very high (over 90 percent) and whales can also be sighted several times per
month. In 2000 the operation handled a total of nearly 7,000 tourists of whom
251 were foreigners (USA, Korean and Japanese providing the highest
numbers). Revenue from the tour operation has shown consistent growth since
inception in 1996, with a gross of over P1.8 million received in 2000.
El Nido Resorts
Larger scale resort developments that adhere to principles of ecotourism are an
effective and sustainable means of providing benefits to the community. Ten
Knots, a company that operates two resorts in El Nido, have created a
symbiotic relationship with the community. The project established the El
Nido Foundation that helps the community develop a variety of business
opportunities including its own capacity for attracting and supporting tourism.
The El Nido Foundation was established in 1994 to provide financing
assistance for small cooperatives and micro-enterprises and has since granted
loan assistance of P2 million to 500 beneficiaries either individual, working
groups or associations. Typical projects of the Foundation for the community
include small retail stores and stalls, and high intensive farming techniques to
increase productivity to supply the demand for fresh food required by the
One of El Nido Foundation’s beneficiaries, Ms. Susan Lualhati said, “… it has
helped the community and the environment by enhancing the ability of the
local people to share the benefits of tourism. Now, the link between economic
development and environmental protection is obvious to all of us.”
Puerto Princesa Underground River National Park
In 1996, total visitors to the Park were 25,064 with 76 percent domestic and 24
percent foreign nationals. By 1997 the park have increased its annual numbers
of tourists visitors by 59 percent to 39,979 visitors. Visitors contributed
P3,722,400 in tourism revenue from cave entry, park entrance and cottages.
Other benefits generated by tourism go directly to business operators in the
Tourism can generate both positive and negative impacts on environmental
and socio-cultural values. Successful ecotourism is likely to occur in the
Communities have been involved from the initial stages;
Partnerships with tour operators and resorts have been formed with the
The financial return is an effective incentive to protect the resource base.
2.11 HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT
In 1998, employment in the tourism sector reached 3.37 million, an
improvement by 32 percent of the total employment generated in 1994 of 2.55
million. Of this total, the transport sector had the biggest share with 80
percent, restaurants and similar establishments 15 percent, hotel and lodging
services sector accounted for 4 percent, and travel agents, tour operators and
tour guides with 10 percent.
Table 2-12: Employment by Sector 1994 and 1998
Tourism Sector Total Male Female Total Male Female
Lodging Services 102,755 67,221 35,531 116,835 76,433 40,222
establishments 385,623 223,777 161,846 528,582 306,736 221,846
Transport 2,062,647 1,821,431 241,216 2,720,008 2,401,916 318,092
& Tour Guides 2,759 1,658 1,102 3,639 2,186 1,453
TOTAL 2,553,784 2,114,087 439,695 3,369,064 2,787,271 581,613
Tourism manpower training in the Philippines is provided by a mix of public
training institutions, such as the Asian Institute of Tourism (AIT), private
schools, and in-house training facilities at hotels. Vocational and skills training
courses are offered by various training institutions. The Technical Education
Skills Development Authority (TESDA) offers training and certification for
hotel and restaurant industry entry-level positions.
Human Resource Development is addressed in the Tourism Master Plan. The
restructuring of the Hotel and Restaurant Industry Board to the Tourism
Industry Board Foundation, Inc. (TIBFI) was completed. It covers all sectors
of the industry and, thus, gives the Board powers to ensure timely availability
of resources, efficient training centers and trainers.
2.11.2 Training Standards
Aware of the need to set minimum standards for training programs and
trainers, the TIBFI has formulated standards that are currently being used for
accreditation by the DOT. The establishment of the Hotel Tourism Institute of
the Philippines (HTIP) as the regional training center for the National Capital
Region was also accomplished. The arrangement developed by the DOT
whereby it provided the school building and the Hotel and Restaurant
Association of the Philippines (HRAP) as HTIPs manager and operator will
be adopted in the establishment of regional training centers in tourism centers
in Baguio, Cebu and Davao.
The achievement of the recommended training programs and institutions to
address the human resource requirements of the industry can be attributed to
the active participation of relevant government agencies, non-government
institutions and the private sector.
As ecotourism becomes increasingly popular in the country, it is imperative to
address the human resource development in this respect. Specialist skills and
safety standards relating to ecotourism activities such as caving, trekking,
scuba-diving, rafting and the like need to be considered.
2.11.3 Training Needs
Some of these training needs were identified during the Tourism Related
Industry Conference held last August 2001 while some were summed up
during the regional ecotourism stakeholders’ workshops. Priorities included:
A need to upgrade tourism establishment of trends and technology in skills
More awareness is needed nationally in areas contributing to efficiency
and productivity such as Sanitation and Hygiene and Food Safety
Lack of trained specialized guides
Design training module for special eco-guides (i.e. mountaineers,
cavers, katutubo guides, rafters, village guides)
Lack of trained personnel to attend to emergency cases
Conduct training-seminars on first-aid, rescue operations and disaster
preparedness for LGUs and tourism establishment owners
Need for training of local guides such as boatmen, calesa operators to
provide quality service to tourists
Lack of awareness by LGUs and communities of the nature and benefits of
tourism, and the requirements and processes for tourism development
Conduct Tourism Awareness Programs
Undertake Customer Service Seminars for front liners (including
tricycle drivers, boat operators)
Preservation and sustainability of indigenous skills for local crafts and
products (weaving, woodcraft, shellcraft, basketry, native food preparation,
use of abundant local materials), especially with regard to international
Poor facilities and delivery of hotel and restaurant services due to unskilled
workers particularly waiters, bartenders, housekeepers and room attendant
2.11.4 Associations and Clubs
Various ecotourism associations and adventure sports clubs have been
organized since the advent of ecotourism in the country to provide training for
members (e.g. rock-climbing, boardsailing, mountaineering, scuba diving,
The DOT has developed training modules for mountain guiding and cave
guiding. To date, a total of 257 mountain guides and cave guides have
participated in seminars conducted in Kalinga, Banaue, Tuguegarao,
Kidapawan and Bacolod.
The DOT conducts relevant training programs all over the Philippines (e.g.
home stay programs, ecotourism awareness programs, seminars for boatmen,
The development of modules and guidelines for standardization of water-
rafting skills is under process by the DOT in coordination with water-rafting
2.11.5 Implications for Ecotourism
Substantial employment and jobs as well as livelihood opportunities can
be generated from ecotourism. However, based on the foregoing
assessment the following need to be instituted:
Training program needed for specialist guides
Marketing and design for traditional handicraft makers
Training and safety standards ecotourism activities.
3 STRATEGIC FRAMEWORK
3.1 PUTTING THE PIECES TOGETHER
The Situation Analysis chapter highlights needs and opportunities for
ecotourism development in the Philippines by taking apart the component
parts of tourism and examining each in relation to ecotourism. The objectives
of this chapter are to put the component parts together again and to explain the
ETWG’s preliminary conclusions about the broad, strategic ideas that should
underpin the NES. The strategic ideas presented in this chapter were discussed
at the National Ecotourism Planning Workshop in November 2001 as a
preliminary “strategic framework” for the NES.
By presenting the proposed strategic framework as one continuous whole, the
EO 111’s call for an integrated strategy is addressed. The framework attempts
to present the strategic ideas in a logical flow and to illustrate the
interrelationships involved. Eventually, these ideas will be expanded on in
detail in the NES. In this Preliminary Draft, outlines only are presented later in
Chapters 4 to 8.
While the following “Preliminary Strategic Framework” section is presented
in a positive tone, it nevertheless remains tentative. There is ample opportunity
to amend the framework after feedback from the next round of consultation
led by the RECs.
3.2 PRELIMINARY STRATEGIC FRAMEWORK
Government Support for Ecotourism
The Government has clearly demonstrated its willingness to take radical steps
to foster ecotourism through its actions to date towards implementing EO 111.
Establishing the NEDC, NESC, ETWG and RECs has involved commitments
from many government agencies. The concept of a formal partnership between
government’s resource managers and government’s tourism planners, as
mandated in EO 111, is unparalleled in other countries. It is an excellent base
on which to build a strategy.
Continuing strong government support will be fundamental to developing and
promoting ecotourism. While there is widespread public enthusiasm for
ecotourism, it is not yet a major political issue. Ideally, ecotourism and the
NES should have a prominent political champion, someone able to create a
sense of urgency and establish the political will for a concerted effort to foster
At the government agency level, the realities of limited funding must be
accommodated. However, much can be done without large budgets by merely
focussing and coordinating effort of many agencies. In this regard, the NES
will not only serve as a guidebook for the future work of the EO 111 bodies,
but it should also focus the efforts of many other potential contributors to the
ecotourism cause. The final NES will contain lists of priority supporting
actions by other individual stakeholder groups, including government agencies
as well as non-government organizations and potential donors. These lists will
have been negotiated with each stakeholder group.
Ecotourism for the Philippines
For the purposes of this strategy, ecotourism is not viewed as merely an
imported concept. While the term and the basic idea came from overseas, the
sustainability of the NES rests with its direct relevance to the real needs and
opportunities in the Philippines. In this sense the emphasis of the NES will be
on “ecotourism for the Philippines”, not “Philippines for ecotourism”.
The Bohol Congress’ Ecotourism Definition (see Section 1.3) established that,
in the Philippines context, ecotourism will take place in both natural and
cultural heritage areas. As settings for ecotourism, these areas will require
careful management. The activities associated with ecotourism will contribute
to environmental education, including fostering awareness of environmental
problems. Developing ecotourism will involve the empowerment of local
communities to participate in and benefit from tourism. Ecotourism will also
be a product that satisfies visitors.
The ecotourism agenda for the Philippines is to make the ideals embodied in
the Bohol Congress’ Ecotourism Definition come true.
General Strategic Approach
An approach is envisaged that is both “top-down” and “bottom-up”. The “top-
down” element will be government-led with the overarching aim of
refocusing, recombining and coordinating government initiatives across a
range of agencies. The “bottom-up” element will recognize the grass-roots and
private sector aspects of ecotourism and aim to create mechanisms for
nurturing ecotourism development through community initiatives and local
This approach conforms to the Bohol Ecotourism Policy Statement (See
Section 1.3), which implies that the state should lead the development and
promotion efforts, using ecotourism as a tool for sustainable development. The
“integrating system” called for in the Bohol Ecotourism Policy Statement will
focus initially on nurturing development. Later the focus can switch to
Focussing Stakeholder Efforts
The foundation of the “top- down” elements will be a system of “Key
Ecotourism Sites.” These will provide the focus for all government-led
initiatives under the NES. Key Sites have been chosen (as yet tentatively),
based on national selection criteria prepared by the NESC, through a process
involving extensive regional participation lead by the RECs. Once approved
by the NEDC, Key Sites will be the subject of a campaign of ecotourism
advocacy by the EO 111 bodies.
From within the Key Sites, some have been selected as “Banner Key Sites”.
These will be the flagships of Philippines ecotourism, providing the leading
images for promotions to both international and domestic tourist markets. In
addition, a further group of other sites have been identified as “Emerging and
Potential Key Sites”. These will qualify for regional priority for development
assistance and will be recognized as candidates in the medium and long term
for elevation to Key Site status.
The EO 111 bodies will administer this Key Site system, re-evaluating the list
of Key Sites from time to time.
Advocacy of Ecotourism in the Key Sites
The EO 111 bodies will intensively promote the Key Ecotourism Sites concept
and act as advocates for ecotourism in the Key Sites. This will involve
identifying cost-effective measures to stimulate and manage ecotourism
development in Key Sites and drawing the attention of government agencies at
all levels to ways the agencies can assist. This advocacy role will become a
primary activity of the EO 111 bodies, particularly the RECs. RECs will seek
sponsorship and contributions in kind from ecotourism supporters to fund their
Ecotourism Development Program
As called for in EO 111, a Government-funded Ecotourism Marketing and
Development Program will be introduced. The funding base for this program
will be a modest allocation from within the annual budgets of DOT and
DENR. In addition, donor interest will be sought, particularly from
international agencies interested in ecotourism and conservation.
DOT will plan, fund and implement the ecotourism marketing component of
the Program, with the aim of dramatically raising the profile of Philippines
ecotourism in both international and domestic markets. DENR will plan, fund
and implement the ecotourism development component of the Program,
focussing exclusively on the careful development of appropriate types and
styles of ecotourism in areas protected for natural and cultural values.
The two departments will closely coordinate their activities at meetings of the
EO 111 bodies.
Standards and Accreditation
The two departments will also coordinate closely, through the EO 111 bodies,
in the task of assisting the evolution of industry standards for ecotourism and
systems of accreditation of ecotourism operations.
The process of setting of standards will begin with safety regulations and
general operating guidelines for specific activities – eg caving, diving, river
rafting, whale shark viewing etc. This work, some of which is already
underway, will involve extensive consultation and partnership with
appropriate industry associations where they exist. DOT/DENR cooperation in
this area will combine DOT’s legislative mandate to oversee tourism standards
with DENR’s ability to insist on compliance as a prerequisite for ecotourism
operations in protected areas.
Defining standards of performance for government agencies will be a separate
initiative, involving the adoption of a custom designed system of best practice
for activities such as interpretation and visitor management in protected areas
and in ecotourism guiding. Once again, a combined DOT/DENR approach
will be taken with coordination by the EO 111 bodies.
Accreditation will be undertaken on a regional basis led by the RECs,
according to national guidelines established by NESC. The aim of
accreditation will be to determine whether operations (community-based,
private sector, NGO sponsored or government-led) meet the criteria of
“ecotourism”. The driving rationale for accreditation will be eligibility to
participate in the various programs of the NES.
Fostering Grass-Roots Initiatives through Funding
The “bottom-up” components of the NES will be spearheaded by a
development funding facility (tentatively) called the Ecotourism Development
Fund. At present this is envisaged as a facility with a fixed life. Its aim will be
to stimulate worthy models of ecotourism development by providing funding
to ecotourism projects throughout the Philippines (ie not only in Key Sites).
International and bilateral donor agencies will be invited to support the fund.
The vision is that the Fund will be a source of contestable matching funding
for ecotourism projects within Key Sites. A NEDC appointed Committee of
Trustees could oversee the Fund. The EO 111 bodies, specifically including
the RECs, will make funding allocation decisions.
Eligible projects may be community-based, private sector initiated, NGO
sponsored or LGU-led. Projects must be accredited as “ecotourism” by the
appropriate REC. Eligible projects may apply to the Fund for up to 50% of
funds required for specified activities. The Project must have already raised
the other 50%. Eligible activities will range from product development,
training and marketing. Donors may be identified with the matching funds
provided to specific projects.
The second major plank of the “bottom-up” component of the strategy is a
program of networking. To be led by the ETWG, the Philippines Ecotourism
Network (tentative name) will start simply as list of e-mail and postal
addresses of individuals and organizations actively involved in or keenly
interested in ecotourism. E-mail bulletins and simple newsletters will begin the
networking process. Ultimately, other means to share information, including a
web-site may be introduced. The primary rationale of the network is as a
mechanism for sharing experiences and, thus, building professionalism.
Engaging the private sector and grass roots projects will be a key focus
initially. Networking within sub-groups will be encouraged. Once an effective
two-way communication is established, the network can become a means to
spread information and to identify worthy models. A long-term goal will be to
establish the network as a means to deliver technical assistance to projects at
4 KEY ECOTOURISM SITES
4.1 THE KEY SITE IDEA
The idea of the Key Ecotourism Sites is to select a number of locations and
products that will be the focus of government attention in the development of
ecotourism in the Philippines. Key Sites need to be exceptional in some way,
in keeping with the definition of ecotourism, and be prepared for visitation.
They will be the focus of both marketing and product development.
In some cases it may be possible to link the Key Sites to form a travel
itinerary, especially where the attractions and activities go together well and
can be packaged. An example of such packaging may be a diving trip or short
excursion to view wildlife included as part of a general sightseeing tour.
Amongst the Key Ecotourism Sites a small number of Banner Sites have been
selected. These are destinations of exceptional image-setting potential. Banner
Sites will be used in positioning the Philippines as a credible ecotourism
destination in domestic and international markets.
A number of Emerging and Potential Key Sites have also been selected as a
second tier of sites. These have the opportunity to be Key Ecotourism Sites in
the future, but are not yet ready or positioned for development and/or
4.2 KEY SITE SELECTION PROCESS
The identification and selection of ecotourism sites in the Philippines was
undertaken through a participatory process at the national and regional levels.
A set of criteria and process for selection evolved during the regional
consultation workshops and deskwork undertaken by the NESC and ETWG. .
The methodology involved a two-tiered process using specific indicators to
determine the appropriateness and viability for developing ecotourism.
The First Level evaluation, which uses a scoring system based on relative
weights in percentages, assessed sites and product/s according to their:
Natural and/or cultural features (35 percent)
Availability of ecotourism product/s (35 percent)
Level of social/ political support (30 percent).
Natural and cultural features refer to the uniqueness of a site as well as the
richness and significance of its resources. Eocotourism products are
resources and activities that can be developed and promoted that will
generate employment and livelihood opportunities for local people. Social
and political support pertains to the participation of the community and
cooperation of government, private sector and non-governmental
organizations to forge linkages and networks towards the implementation of
plans in close consultation with community.
The Second Level evaluation is priority-setting based on an assessment of
the market demand and future benefits to the community and visitor.
Specifically, this level includes an assessment of the following with
corresponding suggested weights:
Accessibility of the site from major international and domestic gateways
and tourism flows (10 percent)
Current market demand from international and domestic visitors, including
the potential appeal to these markets (30 percent)
Availability of visitor facilities and services (25 percent)
Local benefits accruing to the community through livelihood and
employment opportunities (30 percent)
Peace and order, security and safety (5 percent)
The relative weights for the First Level criteria were assigned by the NESC
and ETWG to ensure unilateral application of the criteria by the RECs. The
assignment of relative weights for Second Level criteria was made by the
RECs according to specific circumstances of the regions. These levels of
evaluation served as a basis for the RECs to determine the Key Sites, Banner
Sites as well as the Emerging and Potential Key Ecotourism Sites . The results
were brought to the National Planning Workshop where all the sites were
compared and finally selected based on four regional clusters. The clusters
represent the four main groupings of regions that share a common major
gateway. They consist of:
Northern Luzon Cluster - Regions I, II, III, CAR (Laoag and Subic/Clark
Southern Luzon Cluster - Regions IV, V, NCR (Manila gateway)
Visayas Cluster – Regions VI, VII, VIII (Cebu gateway)
Mindanao Cluster – Regions IX, X, XI, XII, CARAGA, ARMM (Davao
The list of Key Sites underwent further analysis by the ETWG in order to
rationalize the regional distribution of sites and to ensure that quality sites
were put forward. These adjustments were presented for final approval to the
The Key Ecotourism Sites identified in the NES will serve as the basis for
ecotourism development in the Philippines. Detailed interventions at each site
will be included in the Action Plan.
4.3 KEY ECOTOURISM SITES AND BANNER SITES
*INSERT MAP OF KEY AND BANNER SITES
Twenty-seven (27) Key Ecotourism Sites and therein fourteen (14) Banner
Sites for the Philippines were selected as shown in figure
Figure 4 – 1 Key Ecotourism Sites in the Philippines
Peñablanca Protected Landscape Laoag
Cordillera Rice Terraces
Southern Luzon Mt. Kanlaon
Clark/ Subic Tañon Strait
Tagaytay/Taal Volcano Apo Island
Mt. Isarog Manila Olango Island
Donsol Lake Danao
Mt. Bulusan Bohol
Mt. Guiting-Guiting Sohoton Cave
Puerto Princesa Under-
Legend: Banner Sites
4.4 EMERGING AND POTENTIAL KEY ECOTOURISM SITES
Sixty-four (64) emerging and potential Key Sites were selected as shown in
figure 4 – 2.
Figure 4 – 2: Emerging and Potential
Ecotourism Sites in the Philippines
Mt. Pulag & Kabayan Mummies
Eva Puson Garden
Apayao River Welcome Park
Balbalasang National Park & Chico River
La Union (Bauang and San Fernando) Visayas
Magat Dam Camotes-Malapascua-Bantayan Islands
Biak-na-Bato National Park Marabut Marine Park
Laoag Sagay Protected Seascape & Landscape
Pantabangan Dam Samar Island
Northern Sierra Madre Bucari Agaman Reforestation
Palaui Island Nogas Island
Governors Rapid Northwestern Panay Peninsula
Baggao Bluewater Sibalom National Park
Mt. Tapulao Odloman Cave
Malabing Valley Rainforest & Caves (?) Balinsasayao Lake
Southwestern Cebu Marine Sanctuary Chain
Cuartro Islas Protected Seascape/ Landscape (?)
Clark/ Subic Higatangan Tourism Zone (?)
Cabucgayan Caibira Seascape (?)
Bulabog Putian (?)
Jawili-Campo Verde (?)
Southern Luzon Manila Higantes Islands (?)
Pande Asucar Seascape & Landscape
Taklong-Tandog Island (?)
North Negros Forest Reserve (?)
Aurora National Park
Kalibo Mangrove Reforestation (?)
Pamitinan Protected Landscape
Tres Reyes Islands (?)
Prieto Diaz (?)
Legend: Underline – Emerging Sites
Italics -- Potential Sites
4.5 LINKING KEY ECOTOURISM SITES
The idea of linking the Key Sites through tour itineraries and packages was
explored in detail at the National Planning Workshop. The aim of this exercise
was to look for ways in which regions could enter into joint marketing or
product development initiatives. This could overcome the fact that visitors do
not make travel decisions based on regions but more on what products are on
offer, the cost and the time involved in moving from one place to the next.
These Key Site itineraries are listed below. Feedback will now be sought by
the RECs, especially from the private sector operators and travel agents, as to
the feasibility and likely success of these itineraries.
In terms of planning, further linkages can be sought via the Philippines
Ecotourism Network, which aims to facilitate exchanges of technical
assistance, familiarization trips and joint promotions.
*INSERT FOUR MAPS OF EACH OF THE FOUR CLUSTERS SHOWING
ITINERARIES AND LINKAGES DECIDED AT THE NATIONAL
*LIST SUMMARY LIST OF CLUSTER-LEVEL TOURS THAT EMERGED
OUT OF THE NATIONAL PLANNING WORKSHOP.
5 ECOTOURISM MARKETING AND DEVELOPMENT
5.1 COORDINATING AND FOCUSSING GOVERNMENT EFFORTS
Government-led efforts to develop and promote ecotourism will focus first on
the Key Sites. The EO 111 bodies and the DOT/DENR partnership will
become advocates for ecotourism in the Key Sites, taking every possible
opportunity to push the cause of ecotourism, especially to other government
agencies with budgets to spend. Ideally, these advocacy efforts will be
spearheaded with political support from the highest possible levels, creating a
sense of urgency about implementing EO 111. The urgency will be based on
the wide range of government priorities (such as environmental conservation,
cultural preservation, rural employment, poverty alleviation, outdoor
education, security issues, enhancement of the national image, diversification
of tourism products, etc) that can be addressed by ecotourism.
In addition to this advocacy program, DOT and DENR will lead a program of
technical assistance to Key Ecotourism Sites, under the guidance of the
NEDC and NESC. The program will be funded by dedicated allocations
within DENR’s and DOT’s budgets.
DOT’s work under the program will focus on marketing and product
development the ecotourism sites. Emphasis would be on promoting the
images of the Banner Sites and packaging ecotourism circuits (where
possible), taking care to match markets and products. The use of brand themes
for packages which focus on adventure (for instance, trekking in the Ifugao),
nature (for example, the whale sharks of Donsol) and culture (the Ifugao Rice
Terraces) will be an effective way to market and position ecotourism amongst
other mainstream tourism products. Continuous research and enhancement of
products will also be pursued by the DOT in collaboration with the private
sector, local communities, DENR and other stakeholders.
DENR’s work under the program will focus on the careful development of
appropriate styles of ecotourism in protected areas. This may include the
phased introduction of a “People and Parks” program to raise awareness of
protected areas and their values. Coordination with education authorities and
the nation’s school program could result in increased levels of participation in
outdoor education and outdoor pursuits training. The overall aim to expose the
next generation to the values associated with natural and cultural resources.
5.2 ACTION PLAN TO ESTABLISH AN ECOTOURISM MARKETING
5.2.1 The Need for an Ecotourism Marketing Program
An Ecotourism Marketing Program is needed to position the Philippines as a
significant, vibrant Asian ecotourism destination in international source
markets. An Action Plan is needed first to assign agency roles and
responsibilities in terms of short, medium and long-term priorities. .
DOT and PCVC are the focal points of international destination marketing in
the Philippines. It is envisaged that these agencies will jointly lead the
implementation of the Ecotourism Marketing Program. The “Banner Sites”
have been selected as ecotourism image setters for international source
LGUs, regional tourism offices, NGOs and tour operators at Key Ecotourism
Sites will be crucial to supplying the travel industry and domestic market with
flows of information about ecotourism developments. The Philippines
Ecotourism Network also has an important role to play in this regard.
5.2.2 The Ecotourism Marketing Program Action Plan
DOT and PCVC launch an Ecotourism Marketing Program to establish the
Philippines as a credible ecotourism destination, using Banner Sites as
image setters (see below).
The Philippines Ecotourism Network would facilitate national flows of
information between DOT PCVC, LGUs, Key Ecotourism Sites, and the
tourism industry (see below).
Along with the development of ecotourism products, the Marketing Program
will be a crucial element in the successful implementation of this strategy. The
key features of such a program would involve:
To increase visitation and more widely spread tourism benefits in rural
Philippines by building on DOTs current national and international marketing
To establish the Philippines as an ecotourism destination in target markets,
focusing on the core products and destinations represented in the Key
To broaden the tourism product in the Philippines into styles of tourism
that supports the market image, bringing rural benefits and enhancing
The Ecotourism Marketing Program is an opportunity to expand on DOT's
current campaigns, refresh the Philippines’ image, broaden market appeal,
attract increased private sector investment, encourage community-based
operators, support the efforts of NGOs and bring tourism revenue to local
Specifically, the objectives are as follows:
Encourage a market-led approach to ecotourism development based on
sound market research and monitoring by advocating for more reliable data
collection and improved information in ecotourism areas.
Facilitate greater co-ordination and liaison between the tourism industry
and organizations concerned with tourism at village, regional, national and
Encourage Philippines’ travel agents to sell ecotourism destinations by
keeping them informed of Key Site logistics, attraction improvements and
Establish the Philippines as an Asian ecotourism destination by working
with the private sector and NGOs to package products with focus on the
ecotourism Key Site circuits.
Structure the marketing thrust on major sets of existing target markets
from North America, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. Emphasis will be given to
promotion to niche markets, special interest groups, village tourism
visitors and FITs, and in the medium-term to Europe, Australia and other
emerging Asian markets, especially China. The recreational needs of
domestic tourists will also be recognized.
Develop overseas destination marketing and promotional programs for
ecotourism target markets centered on Philippines diving, walking, village,
culture, wildlife and nature products that reinforce the market image.
Achieve enhanced ecotourism product development by applying market
knowledge towards upgrading general management and operational
standards to the private sector, NGOs and local communities through the
ETWG and Ecotourism Network.
Improve overall levels of visitor servicing through a more comprehensive
approach to visitor information, guide training, safety and interpretation
with special emphasis on culture and nature products that support the
market image, co-ordinated by the ETWG and Ecotourism Network.
5.2.3 Ecotourism Market Segments
Ecotourism destinations in the Philippines are most likely to succeed when
when there is a mix of tourism products which match market demand. Seven
distinctive market segments were identified for which ecotourism holds
Domestic (Families, students, club members, corporate, pilgrims etc)
Packaged Groups (Western and Asian)
FITs (Western and Asian)
Expatriates in the Philippines
Other Special Interest Groups (adventure, birdwatchers, religious pilgrims)
5.2.4 Research and Monitoring
Advocate for market-led development based on sound research and monitoring
with DOT and DENR.
Improve the collection and analysis of accurate and timely arrival information
in ecotourism and protected areas.
5.2.5 Coordination and Liaison Activities
DOT, DENR and the Philippines Ecotourism Network advocate for tourism
with other national, regional and local government departments, particularly
for support for Key Sites. This will help create strong networks between and
among tourism players in the Philippines, particularly between the LGUs,
NGOs and the private sector.
5.2.6 Destination Awareness Activities
The market image of a destination needs to reflect reality and accurately match
visitor expectations. Market images must be supported by deliverable tour
programs and itineraries. The Philippines needs to be branded and positioned
in source markets with a strong and distinct market image that features
ecotourism products, along with current beach and nightlife images. Unique
selling points might include: whale sharks, whales and dolphins, tarsier,
Philippines eagle, bat flight, coral reefs (blue coral), wreck diving, river
running, local boats, volcanoes (Mt. Mayon), tropical forest trekking, etc.
5.2.7 Target Markets
Build on current target market priorities in the Philippines and expand the base
to attract visitors with proven interest in ecotourism products.
Short haul: Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan
Long haul: North America and Australia/New Zealand
Short haul: Other Asian segments (Malaysia, Singapore etc.)
Long haul Europe (UK, Germany, France, Scandinavian countries,
DOT PCVC can build on current travel trade networks and direct marketing
efforts in the short and long haul primary markets for maximum impact and
cost effectiveness. Direct current business and beach segments into ecotourism
by offering modules of ecotourism and activity-based adventure as “Business
Plus” and “Beach Plus” options. Seek out and promote to segments of target
markets whose travel motivations match the Philippines ecotourism and diving
5.2.8 Overseas Marketing Activities
Reorient DOT’s current market representation arrangements to help position
the Philippines as a destination having quality ecotourism products.
International Wholesalers and Tour Operators
Seek and support international specialist travel wholesalers and tour operators.
This will be the most cost effective and efficient means of marketing and
selling ecotourism, particularly in medium and long haul target markets. Niche
wholesalers such as special interest (nature, culture, wildlife, ecotourism,
adventure, etc.) and dive operators are of particular interest.
Trade Fairs and Travel Shows
Feature ecotourism at relevant travel shows for both the trade and consumers
as a cost-effective means of creating destination awareness, especially when
supported by the private sector.
Sales Missions, Agent Seminars and Road Shows
Combine sales missions with trade fairs in target markets for maximum cost
effectiveness. Travel agent seminars are useful when closely co-ordinated with
selected international wholesalers and Philippines operators, and arranged well
5.2.9 Promotional Activities in the Philippines
Agents Familiarization Trips
There can be no better promotion than to get key international ecotourism and
adventure sales personnel to experience a destination first hand. DOT and the
ETWG can actively foster targeting agents' familiarization trips to ecotourism
sites as a cost effective and useful strategy to promote destination awareness in
partnership with airlines, international wholesalers and Philippines travel
Visiting Media Program
Actively continue the visiting media program, especially from publications
and films that reinforce the ecotourism market image, in partnership with
airlines, wholesalers and operators.
Be cautious with advertising in all source markets as it can be very costly and
ineffective unless carefully planned, targeted and monitored. Consider
ecotourism advertising in the travel trade press in medium and long haul
targets. Rates in trade publications are considerably lower that general interest
media, and trade advertising supports the trade strategies in these markets.
Documentary and Feature Films
Encourage the filming of wildlife, diving and adventure documentaries and
even feature films in the Philippines as being a cost-effective means of
promotion, especially when the market image is reinforced in target markets.
Books and CD ROMs
Actively encourage the publication of books and CD ROMs on ecotourism
activities in the Philippines. Recognize that certain guidebooks (such as the
Lonely Planet series) are very influential in determining patterns of travel,
particularly with FITs.
Annual and one-off sporting events and cultural festivals have been well
developed for tourism in the Philippines. Multi-sports events, volcano races,
river running and surfing competitions all reinforce the image. Facilitate
partnerships with the private sector so special events can, where appropriate,
be managed, operated and marketed as commercially viable businesses.
Maximize the coverage and exposure opportunities presented for the
Philippines by marketing activities linked with International Year of the
Mountains 2002, International Year of Ecotourism 2002, and so on.
5.2.10 Sales Promotional Material
Brochures and Printed Material
Destination marketing brochures need to be designed to promote the
ecotourism destinations. Maximum impact will be achieved if the wider
tourism industry projects the market image in its promotional material, tailored
to individual products. A special interest brochure for the Philippines could be
a key sales tool. Maximum benefits will be achieved if the design of these is
flexible enough to be used by the travel industry in their own jackets or with a
blank space for operators to put their own stamps on the back.
Extend the range of destination printed material to include a new series of high
quality posters and stickers of extraordinary and collectible images that both
establish the ecotourism market image, serve as give-away items and provide a
source of revenue.
Electronic Promotional Tools
Ensure the new destination brochures are on relevant web sites and strongly
reflect the ecotourism market image. Websites need to be regularly updated.
Link the Philippines web sites with international and local agents for
Refer email inquiries promptly to relevant operations as delays reflect against
Promotional Videos and Audio Visuals
Videos are valuable promotional tools not only for operators but also for
motivators and media and need to reflect ecotourism activities. They can be
widely used for trade fairs, sales missions and seminars.
Give priority to building up a photographic resource library of the highest
quality visuals reflecting the ecotourism market image. Fresh photographic
images are essential to support the newly designed promotional material, web
site, audio visual presentations, and for the use of operators and wholesalers.
Public Relations and Press Releases
Distribute regular press releases, newsletters and announcements, especially to
the trade and media. This is an excellent and cost effective means of
generating awareness of ecotourism in the Philippines and keeping the
destination in the public eye. The private sector must continually keep the
Ecotourism Network informed of new developments and news items.
Regularly update a mailing list database of all specialist trade and media
contacts that have demonstrated an interest in ecotourism in the Philippines.
5.3 ACTION PLAN TO ESTABLISH AN ECOTOURISM IN PROTECTED
* In the Final Strategy , an action plan will be inserted here specific, DENR- led
product development activities associated with fostering appropriate style and levels
of ecotourism in protected areas. The Acton Plan will include a timetable for short,
medium, long term priorities
6 STANDARDS AND ACCREDITATION
6.1 IMPERATIVES FOR INDUSTRY STANDARDS
Globally, standards for ecotourism activities are being developed in order to
stay true to the concept of ecotourism, provide quality experiences, and uphold
the safety of clients. Accidents and subsequent litigation have led over the last
decade to the development of standards for activities that were traditionally
not regulated. Examples include rafting, caving, mountain guiding and
trekking in the Philippines..
The world-wide proliferation of products marketed as ecotourism and
subsequent perception by many in the industry that its original intention is
often misunderstood, is another reason why some governments and their
associated tourism industries have embarked on accreditation programs.
Ecotourism standards take a variety of forms around the world. They include
programs that are specifically defined as an ecotourism standard (e.g the
Nature and Ecotourism Accreditation Program in Australia) to standards for
nature and adventure activities that are conducted in natural areas and
associated with ecotourism (e.g. the PADI system for diving).
Nature and adventure tourism operators, outdoor clubs and individuals have in
general realized the benefits of having industry standards. Safety standards
have become a focus for travel wholesalers who will not purchase tours
without evidence or reputation of safe operating standards. Many tourism
operators have successfully integrated safety measures into the marketing of
their products to convince both wholesalers, inbound tour operators and
customers of a well managed activity.
With the increasing refinement of ecotourism products and services, the notion
of ‘best practice’ has been gradually introduced in the Asia Pacific region over
the last five years. Best practice generally takes the form of guidelines, often
prepared by advocacy groups in partnership with a government or donor
agency and tourism industry bodies (e.g. a nature tour guide association or a
network of villages involved with homestays).
With increasing specialization in ecotourism, the Philippines National
Ecotourism Planning Workshop discussed and endorsed the idea that a special
‘ecotourism guide’ category be considered by the tourism industry.
Recognizing local and activity-skilled guides in this way is considered
necessary in developing a professional dimension in the ecotourism industry.
6.2 ACCREDITATION IN ECOTOURISM
Accreditation is the system by which ecotourism industry standards are
applied. Application of standards can serve a variety of purposes: to maintain
and improve service; as a means of clearly defining what is and what is not
ecotourism; for marketing and promotion; and as a criterion for funding
The concept of accreditation in the Philippines is already well established
within the DOT. Lessons learned from sectors applying accreditation, (e.g.
accommodation, caving, rafting and mountain guides) could be applied to the
development of an ecotourism accreditation system. An overarching concern
is that such a system should be applied positively, as a way of strengthening
In relation to the proposed Ecotourism Development Fund, an accreditation
system could effectively be used as a screening tool or qualifier. It is
conceivable that RECs could become an agent of accreditation so standards
are applied and monitored at regional and local levels. Technical assistance or
other incentives could be used as a means to help ecotourism ventures become
accredited. In practical terms, this would require a cadre of accredited
ecotourism assessors who would test and certify individual ecotourism
operators. Examples of this process already exist with the Philippine Cave
Guides Association who are DOT accredited assessors and trainers of cave
6.3 BENEFITS OF A JOINT APPROACH
As learned in countries such as Australia and New Zealand, standards and
accreditation work best in a partnership approach between the travel industry
private sector and government. In the Philippines context as well, standards for
ecotourism guides, specific activities such as rafting, sea kayaking, whale
watching and village host programs need to be prepared with technical
expertise from within the industry. Systems need to be put in place for the
accreditation of those already in business and those about to enter the industry.
The Philippines is already showing good progress in this area, often going to
the extent of using international technical assistance for the development of
caving, rafting and mountain trekking standards. This is being achieved in
partnership between DOT and the caving, rafting and mountain trekking
Implementing an effective accreditation system will also require cooperation
between key stakeholders, involving the industry and either DOT or DENR,
and possibly external professional expertise. Ultimate responsibility for day to
day application of standards must lie with the ecotourism operators
themselves. The process for operators to meet standards would occur at
different levels. The NESC and ETWG currently have mandates for
preparation of a national policy on accreditation for ecotourism. The RECs, in
association with LGUs, could then assist operators to meet standards (possibly
via small grants, the Ecotourism Development Fund, or by obtaining technical
expertise) and monitor the application of these.
6.4 ACTION PLAN FOR ESTABLISHING A PROGRAM ON STANDARDS AND
The following steps are put forward for consideration:
Short-term priorities (2002 – 2004)
Clarification of roles and responsibilities for an ecotourism accreditation
system directed by the NESC and ETWG in association with the RECs and
Identification by the ETWG, in association with the NESC, RECs and
LGUs, of an ecotourism accreditation framework which would outline the
workings of such a system
Within the ecotourism accreditation framework, the ETWG would identify
existing standards and any new standards that require preparation
Pilot use of the accreditation system by the RECs and NESC for funding
assistance to existing or accredited ecotourism operators working in Key
Pilot technical assistance projects facilitated through the RECs to help
ecotourism operators to gain accreditation.
Medium-term priorities (2002 – 2007)
Preparation of further standards by industry, REC’s and ETWG;
Review of the accreditation framework and pilot projects (may require
Long-term priorities (2002 – 2010)
Key stakeholders working in partnership so that all ecotourism operations
are accredited by 2010.
7 ECOTOURISM DEVELOPMENT FUND
7.1 OBJECTIVES OF THE FUND
Implementation of the National Ecotourism Strategy could be greatly assisted
by the establishment of an Ecotourism Development Fund. While the detail of
the Fund concept has yet to be finalized, the essential idea was endorsed at the
National Ecotourism Planning Workshop. It is envisaged that the Philippine
government might seed the Fund and then it would become the focus of
support for ecotourism from donor agencies.
In essence, the Fund would provide contestable matching grants for private
sector and/or community-based projects meeting the definition of
"ecotourism". The objectives of the Fund might be to:
to ‘kick-start’ ecotourism development throughout the Philippines by
fostering models of success
to assist with training and marketing ecotourism throughout the Philippines
to facilitate technical assistance to the ecotourism sites.
The activities that would be eligible for consideration by the Fund include:
Technical assistance in product development
Training for ecotourism (private sector, community based, NGO, local or
7.2 ADMINISTRATIVE ARRANGEMENTS
Administration of the Fund would need to be fair, transparent and directed
towards urgently getting ‘success stories’ established. Clear procedures with a
mechanism that allows regional and national level decision-making will be
essential. In practical terms, this means an Ecotourism Development Fund
with the following characteristics:
Contestable – meaning it is open to any applications that meet the funding
50/50 Matched Funding - an applicant would first have to find 50 percent
of the funds required for the project. Then, if successful in their
application, the Fund would match the remaining 50 percent funding as a
grant, based on receipts.
Regular – there could be up to three funding ‘rounds’ per year
Empowering RECs – meaning while the Fund would be overseen by the
NESC or some other nominated national body, applications would first be
vetted and recommended by the RECs.
Targeted – the Fund is intended for use in ecotourism project with the
potential to be models that can be emulated.
7.3 ACTION PLAN FOR ESTABLISHING THE FUND
Short-term (2002 – 2004)
NESC and REC’s prepare the procedures, criteria and timing of the Fund
Philippine Government endorsement and indications of support from
relevant donor agencies
NESC and RECs (or other bodies as deemed appropriate) pilot use of the
Fund in priority sites (probably Key Sites).
Medium-term (2002 – 2007)
NESC and RECs review the efficacy of the Fund
Continue use of the fund or make adjustments as required.
Long-term (2002 – 2010)
Expansion of the Fund into lower priority areas
Review future use of the Fund.
8 PHILIPPINES ECOTOURISM NETWORK
8.1 NETWORK OBJECTIVES
The Philippines Ecotourism Network idea is based on the notion that
additional strength can be derived by linking people involved with ecotourism
in the Philippines. The National Ecotourism Planning Workshop unanimously
endorsed the idea.
Conceived as a mechanism for sharing experiences and thus enhancing
professionalism, the "network" might be simply an expanding mailing list of
concerned individuals, private operators, ecotourism development projects,
NGOs, LGUs, national government agencies, with interests in ecotourism.
Communications within the network could be initially by e-mail and
newsletters and then by other means such as websites. The Network is seen as
eventually being the “beating heart” of ecotourism in the Philippines. As such
it could become an important conduit for the flow of information for product
development and for international and domestic marketing. .
8.2 THE ROLE OF ETWG
The current ETWG is a government appointed technical working group with
Department of Tourism
Department of Environment and Natural Resource/Protected Areas and
Department of Interior and Local Government
National Economic Development Authority
One of the primary roles of the ETWG is to provide technical and
administrative support to the NESC and NEDC. As prescribed in EO111, the
ETWG is based for the first three years at DOT, after which it will transfer to
DENR for a further three-year period. At present, the ETWG operates largely
as a committee of officials.
In future, the ETWG is envisaged as the center of the Philippines Ecotourism
Network. It has already performed this role in coordinating the Regional
Stakeholder Workshops, running the National Ecotourism Planning Workshop
and preparing the first Ecotourism Network Newsletter. Supported by the
NZODA ecotourism project, the ETWG’s short-term priorities are to complete
the National Ecotourism Strategy, including the identification of Key
Ecotourism Sites, and assist with establishing the systems and pilot projects by
which the National Ecotourism Strategy can be implemented. The ETWG’s
ability to perform these functions has been strengthened by the appointment of
a full-time Project Coordinator with one full-time and one part-time assistant.
These positions and the ETWG office are funded jointly by DOT, DENR and
the NZODA project.
Successful implementation of the Strategy will require the ETWG to become
cohesive, outward-reaching and a highly competent organization. Making
ecotourism work is a relatively new challenge for most members of the
ETWG. There is a need to strengthen the technical and managerial abilities of
the ETWG. This could be carried out in a number of ways:
Placing ETWG members alongside national consultants and experienced
ecotourism operators in the process of delivering technical assistance to
Having ETWG members involved with work or study exchanges within
and/or outside the Philippines
Secondment of NGO or other personnel with ecotourism expertise to work
alongside the ETWG in its day-to-day duties.
Depending on the success of these measures, the ETWG could ultimately
become a stand-alone organization, well supported by partners and donors, at
the center of a national wide network of ecotourism initiatives. In the
meantime, at the very least the ETWG needs to become a dedicated working
While the whole EO 111 approach, including the ETWG, is unique to
Philippines (and extremely appropriate for the needs of the Philippines),
successful models for ecotourism organizations do exist elsewhere. In Nepal,
the Sustainable Tourism Network has members who are ecotourism
stakeholders from government, NGOs and the private sector and it works
primarily as a vehicle for sharing information and experience. The Australian
Ecotourism Association has fostered ecotourism in Australia. In New Zealand,
the Adventure Tourism Council has assisted the development of industry
standards, increased business skills and shared information amongst its
industry members. Donor agencies such as UNDP, the EU, USAID and
NZODA have proven interests in working with such groups (both
governmental and non-governmental) especially when there is a clear focus on
producing results at the grass roots level. Support from these donors for the
ETWG is conceivable in the short to medium term.
8.3 A CHANNEL FOR TECHNICAL SUPPORT
If the ETWG’s role becomes the center of a web, communicating easily and
regularly with grass-roots operations, it could become a useful channel for
delivering technical assistance to ecotourism projects. Ideally, a cadre of
experienced national consultants will be accumulated around the ETWG,
capable of delivering technical assistance where it is required on behalf of the
ETWG. This type of external technical assistance will help get new
ecotourism businesses up and running and it will ultimately increase the
capability of the Philippines ecotourism industry to assist itself. Donor funding
will be required for this activity.
Existing and potential consultants will need exposure to ecotourism projects in
order to learn the lessons of experience. Consultants need not be seen as
‘experts with all the answers’ but rather as people who have the experience of
a variety of projects and who can facilitate and empower new entrants to
achieve their goals.
8.4 ACTION PLAN FOR ESTABLISHING THE PHILIPPINES ECOTOURISM
Short-term Priorities (2002 – 2004)
The ETWG continues as the center of an informal network of ecotourism
operators and projects, sharing information and preparing a regular
The function and performance of the ETWG is reviewed in 2003 - 2004
In 2004, an Issues and Options paper is prepared by the NESC (based on
the Review), outlining the future purpose and structure of the ETWG or
Philippines Ecotourism Network
Members of the ETWG receive further training in and exposure to the
practical implementation of ecotourism projects.
Medium-term Priorities (2002 – 2007)
In 2004, an Issues and Options paper is prepared by the NESC (based on
the Review), outlining the future purpose and structure of the ETWG or
Philippines Ecotourism Network
Consolidate the ETWG’s Philippine Ecotourism Network
Long-term Priorities (2002 – 2010)
Establish a clear legislative mandate for the ETWG.
9 STAKEHOLDER COMMITMENTS
In the Final Strategy, this chapter will look through the eyes of each of the
individual stakeholder groups in turn and present a checklist of commitments
of all the various stakeholders to operationalize the NES. These action plans
will be negotiated with the stakeholder groups during the remainder of the
NES planning process. The Stakeholder groupings will be:
EO 111 Agencies
Other Central Government Agencies
Private Sector Interests
APPENDIX 1: ECOTOURISM RESOURCES AND RESOURCE
Outputs of the Regional Ecotourism Stakeholders Consultation Workshops
APPENDIX 2: KEY SITES AND KEY SITE DEVELOPMENT ISSUES
Outputs of the National Ecotourism Planning Workshop
APPENDIX 3: KEY SITE ACTION PLANS