2nd Quarter 2007
Ecotourism to enhance economy, nature management
ECOTOURISM IS AN EMERGING INDUSTRY and one of the government’s nature-based development alternatives that could enhance the economy.
The Philippines is considered a leading ecotourism destination because of its rich natural resources that include vast forests, mountains, volcanoes, tribal villages, wetlands, rivers, caves, and long stretches of beaches.
Ecotourism contributes to the tourism industry’s sustained vibrancy that stems from the country’s numerous and virtually unexplored sites for some adventure recreations like sea kayaking, whitewater rafting, mountain trekking, rock climbing, canopy walking, bird watching, spelunking, and snorkeling.
In 2002, tourism accounted for 8.7 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product and had generated about five million jobs. Almost two million international tourists contributed US$1.7 billion to the economy.
According to the Strategic Plan for Ecotourism 2005-2020 prepared by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development, and the National Academy of Science and Technology, sustaining ecotourism requires a strong coordination and linkage of government and private sectors especially on product development and marketing.
A plus factor that boosts ecotourism is a set of policies that have already been set in place. Institutional structure reaches down to the barangay level and many private individuals and organizations are already engaged in various ecotourism activities.A P50M science and technology interventions spearheaded by PCARRD are being implemented to realize ecotourism’s optimum potentials. Among the major plans include the rehabilitation of existing ecotourism areas to sustain unique appeal to tourists. Reducing environmental costs of increasing traffic will ensure sustainability of those sites.Moreover, new ecotourism sites that offer unique experience to adventurous tourists are being identified and developed with full consideration of those sites’ carrying capacity. STP