MENU

ECOTOURISM IN THE PHILIPPINES

The Philippines is regarded as one of the top 25 biodiversity hotspots in the world in view of its high percentage of endemic plants and animals which are threatened by extinction. Recognizing the diverse natural and cultural resources of the country. Executive Order No. 111 was issued on 17 June 1999 to establish the guidelines for ecotourism development in the Philippines. Pursuant to EO111 the National Ecotourism Strategy (NES) was formulated to provide an integrated management plan for the development of ecotourism in the country. Its preparation was undertaken through a series of regional stakeholders consultation and national planning workshops that emphasized a bottom-up and top-down approach for harnessing ideas, information and experiences in developing the country's ecotourism sites.

The bottom-up process aims to create mechanisms for nurturing ecotourism development through community initiatives, local enterpreneurship and private sector participation.

The top-down process seeks to focus the development, management and marketing of key ecotourism sites and set standards for enhancing the quality and monitor ecotourism operations.

The NES responds to real needs and circumstances in the country. It rests on the following principles of ecotourism:

  • sustainable management of natural and cultural resources;
  • environmental education and conservation awareness;
  • empowerment of local communities;
  • development of products that will satisfy visitor needs; and
  • position of Philippines as a globally competitive ecotourism destination.

The NES is founded on the vision to advocate, foster, coordinate, monitor and mobilize support for ecotourism. Specifically, it aims to: 1) Promote and mobilize support for ecotourism from all sectors - government, businesses and general populace; 2) Develop a culture of sustainable tourism among the local people; 3) Institutionalize community participation in planning, development, implementation and monitoring of projects; 4) Promote environmental education and ethics; 5) Develop capability of LGUs and local entrepreneurs; 6) Facilitate domestic and foreign investments to fill in facilities requirements; 7) Develop globally competitive ecotourism products for quality visitor experience; 8) Ensure benefits redound to local community.

A program to integrate and coordinate ecotourism development is also provided for in the NES:

  • Key Ecotourism Sites
  • Product Development
  • Marketing and Promotions
  • Education and Advocacy
  • Support Programs
  • National Ecotourism Fund
  • Monitoring and Evaluation

The NES has identified 32 key ecotourism sites in the Philippines categorized as banner, emerging and potential sites. Twelve (12) of these sites were declared as banner sites, while others are either emerging or potential. Banner sites are relatively ready sites, chosen to provide the image to position the Philippines as a premier and potential sites are areas which can be developed in the medium and long-term, respectively.

 

In the short term, ecotourism products are developed. promoted and marketed in cooperation and close collaboration with the local government units, the local communities, the indigenous people, the private and business sectors and the national government. To ensure visitor satisfaction, tour operators and tour guides/ interpreters will undergo enhancement training on tour guiding. nature interpretation as well as basic first aid and rescue courses. To disseminate and share information, manuals and newsletters are to be produced and an ecotourism communicationnetwork will be established. To ensure success in running the business, entrepreneurial development training will be conducted. Assistance is also extended to improve the basic amenities and facilities in the area. Ecotourism standards to check appropriateness of tours, accommodation and services are to be formulated for future regulation, accreditation and certification program among others. To kick-start the funding of ecotourism projects in key ecotourism sites, a feasibility study is to be conducted to determine the merits of establishing an ecotourism fund.

In the medium term, the action plan includes the promotion of small and medium scale business, continuing enhancement of tour guiding skills and resource management staff; implementation of training programs; monitoring of visitor impacts advocate the institutionalization of ethics among visitors, encourage participation of organizations working for ecotourism in the Philippines, encourage projects for funding support.

In the long-term, it is envisaged to promote ecotourism investment in the site, promote networking of sites and communication between and among stakeholders; develop action plans for emerging and potential key sites; prepare institutional guidelines and modules for planning and development; integrate ecotourism in educational curriculum at all levels; create a cadre of multi-disciplinary and experienced local and national consultants and encourage the participation of individuals and organizations working on ecotourism outside of the Philippines.

 


 

PROGRAMS AND PROJECTS

 


 

National Ecotourism Programme (NEP) Phase I

Project Area Coverage: Banaue, Sapang Bato – Mt. Pinatubo; Pamilacan Island, Bohol

Duration: 2001- 2004

Implementing Agency:Department of Tourism (DOT) and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)

Goals and Objectives:

1. to stand alongside the NESC and ETWG in the preparation and implementation of the NES and EO 111,

2. to manage natural and cultural resources in a sustainable manner and improve employment in rural areas.

3. to assist with the development of ecotourism standards

4. provide information to the travel industry and other ecotourism stakeholders.

Accomplishments:

1. Preparation and adoption of the Philippines National Ecotourism Strategy

2. Pilot delivery of technical assistance for Pamilacan Island (dolphin watching), Banaue (trekking thru the rice terraces & Ifugao villages),

   and Sapang Bato (trekking near Mt. Pinatubo base), Mt. Apo (signs and information used to manage the impacts of trekkers on the trail).

3. Provided networking opportunities among LGUs, tourism industry, NGOs and other GOP agencies of the NEP

4. Launch of the national ecotourism website: www.wowphilippines.com.ph

5. Transfer of skills to local personnel at site level in small business management, tour guide skills and visitor management

 


 

Philippine National Ecotourism Programme Phase II (PNEPII)

Project Name: Philippine National Ecotourism Programme Phase II (PNEPII)
Area Coverage:

1. Norther Luzon Cluster - Hundred Island National Park, Alaminos Pangasinan

2. Southern Luzon Cluster - Mayon Volcano natural Park in Legazpi, Bicol

3. Visayas Cluster - Rajah Sikatuna Protected Landscape in Bilar Bohol

4. Lake Sebu in South Cotabato

Implementing Agency/ies: Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Tourism (DOT)
Duration:

2004-2009

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This final report documents the major achievements and development impacts of the New Zealand Agency for International Development-funded Philippine National Ecotourism Programme Phase II (PNEPII) implemented in 2004-2009.  It is prepared for the National Ecotourism Steering Committee (NESC) and the NZAID-Philippines. The project is jointly implemented by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Tourism (DOT).

The goal of the Project is to mainstream ecotourism in community-based resource management as a means to improve livelihood and manage natural and cultural resources in a sustainable manner.  The Project budget is NZ$1.5 million over four years, including a Continuing Link Programme and Project Monitoring Review.

The objectives of the project include establishment of ecotourism businesses and visitor services in four natural protected areas, advocacy and coordination of the National Ecotourism Strategy within the DENR and DOT, and marketing ecotourism products at site, regional and national levels.

Phase II Project sites included Hundred Island National Park in Alaminos, Pangasinan; Mayon Volcano Natural Park, Legaspi City; Rajah Sikatuna Protected Landscape, Bohol; and Lake Sebu Protected Landscape, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato.  Continuing support was also extended to the Phase 1 pilot areas namely: 1) Sapang-Bato-Mt Pinatubo (trekking near the base of Mt. Pinatubo) in Pampanga; Ifugao Rice Terraces (trekking through the rice terraces and villages of Ifugao Province) and Pamilacan Island (dolphin watching in the sea of Bohol) in Baclayon, Bohol.

A Continuing Link Program (CLP)) was established at the start of Phase II  (July 2004) to provide technical advice, mentoring support and monitoring of progress for Philippine counterparts.  The CLP consultants (Mr. Ross Corbett and Mr. Celestino B. Ulep) worked within a terms of reference. They stayed alongside the National Ecotourism Project Office and banner site teams to provide technical advice  in planning their work program/activities   monitoring of project progress as well as provide the NESC technical advice in the implementation of the National Ecotourism Strategy and the NEP2 project.

In addition to the CLP, there were eight local technical experts contracted to  achieve the specific goals and objectives and specific needs on product development, business planning and capacity building for stakeholders among others, at the banner sites.

OUTPUTS

In terms of outputs, the major milestone indicators of NEP II included the following:

1.Establishment of income generating projects and creation of employment among disadvantaged groups through  ecotourism businesses and visitor services in two protected areas (Sea kayaking in Hundred Islands National Park and Handicraft enhancement and revitalization of TBoli products by  the Lake Sebu Kenhulung Federation);  

2.Expansion of employment opportunities and community income generation in two of the three Phase I banner sites (Pamilacan and Sapang-Bato);

3.Improvement in sustainable resource management and reduction in unsustainable activities in a number of banner sites

4.Improvement in the overall management and planning of the Phase II banner sites;

5.Development of training modules on ecotourism planning and development and incorporation of the same in relevant national  training programs;

6.Development of key policy initiatives ( Ecotourism standards);

7.Implementation of ecotourism focused marketing initiatives;

8.Development of monitoring scheme on NECP training programs;

9.Continuing education and benchmarking for ecotourism assessors;

10.Formulation of rules and regulations to govern the accreditation of ecotourism products and services;

11.Development of Monitoring system to track the overall implementation of the NES formulated;    

12.Establishment of product development and marketing at site, regional and national level. This include marketing development for both the Phase 1 and Phase 2 sites, as well as national marketing work and capacity building of concerned stakeholders in the project sites.

DEVELOPMENT OUTCOMES

Generally, the development outcomes of the Programme are manifested in various ways.

During the early stage of Phase 2, a 10-day study tour was conducted by the Tourism Resource Consultants (TRC) in New Zealand.  This was participated in by 10 members of the NESC, Regional Directors of the DOT and DENR, and project staff.  They were exposed to a mix of successful ecotourism sites.  The group also met with tour operators, regional park staff and senior officials from central government (Department of Conservation, Ministry of Tourism and Tourism New Zealand) and local government (Kaikoura District Council).

Relative to the implementation of the National Ecotourism Certification Program (NECP), the DOT /DENR assessors undergo a continuing education. About 22 participants coming from DOT and PAWB-DENR region visited Kota Kinabalu to enhance understanding of the ecotourism models and learn practical experiences. The ecotourism assessors were trained in the application of ecotourism standards and certification scheme for ecoguide, ecotour, ecolodge and ecotourism facility. The 5-day trip was considered fruitful and productive as the lessons learned has enhanced the outlook of the assessors on what to look for and consider in applying the guidelines on accreditation under the Philippine setting.

In Phase 2, the project intervention enabled the establishment of ecotourism businesses and visitor services in the project sites (Sea Kayaking in Hundred Islands National Park run by the Hundred Islands EcoTour Association (HIETA); and handicraft enhancement of indigenous arts and crafts by the Kenhulung Federation.    

Technical experts were engaged to assist in the development of viable ecotourism products, preparation of business plans as well as capacity building for the organized entities to operate said businesses. The HIETA was guided by the NatureSpecs while the Lake Sebu Kenhulung Federation members received intensive mentoring from a Product Development and Marketing Specialist. The hands-on trainings on various aspects of ecotourism businesses and services provided opportunities to project beneficiaries to gain skills and increase livelihood opportunities which made them more self-confident.  They were able to participate in local, regional national  travel fairs and exhibits, travel marts, festivals and events thus generating greater income. Also, a business plan for Lake Sebu ecotourism development was developed.

For Mayon Volcano Natural Park (MVNP) and Rajah Sikatuna Protected Landscape, facilities for camping were given priority attention. A master plan was developed and facilities built at Lidong campsite of MVNP. For Rajah Sikatuna, the DOT funded the engagement of a local consultant in Developing an Ecotourism Masterplan specifically for Camp Magsaysay and Logarita Swimming Pool.

For Phase 1 sites, continuing assistance was extended to Pamilacan Island Marine Life Tour enhancement by way of revisiting the business plan, refresher training courses on tour guiding for PIDWWO members as well as for new interested local guides in Pamilacan and vicinities, drafting of municipal ordinance on dolphin watching procedures and user fee policy. Mr. Stuart Greene, USAID Marine Biologist who was also involved during Phase 1 continued his technical assistance.  His community immersion and good public relation facilitated consultation workshops and coordination with local government stakeholders.


The PIDWWO business had experienced downturn brought about by unforeseen events such as gap in leadership when the chairman of the organization left the country leading to some confusion and misunderstanding on the financial and management status of Pamilacan Marine Life Tour.  However, with the intervention of Mr. Stuart Greene, issues and problems were identified and resolved so a new leader take over and link up with LGU.  The business is again thriving. With further strengthening of the organization, the members of the Marine Life Tour is still intact and cooperating with each other. The PIDWWO is already regaining due respect in terms of quality tours conducted and the operations manager (Ms. Saturnina “Turning” Quilas) is now being tapped as resource person by those interested to venture into dolphin watching guide/tour operation.  

The Sapang-Bato trek guides (Aetas) also were also given refresher training on nature trek at Mt.Pinatubo.  The Sapang-Bato visitor center was expanded to provide space for souvenirs.

The members of the Banaue Travel Guides and Tour Organization was also given refresher course on Mountain Guiding and Mabuhay Seminar and First Aid.  They continue to become better mountain guides with their continuing exposure to tour guiding activities.  A strong linkage was established with the Banaue Tourism Council which manage and tap the services of tour guides in a systematic scheme. They have demonstrated their guiding skills to several NZAID missions during the Phases 1 and II project.

With the intensive trainings received by the project site beneficiaries particularly the local communities actively involved in the project, more and more opportunities provide potential livelihood income through product sales, higher quality of products and services are being rendered, self confidence has also improved.

There is some evidence that the Project has mobilized additional investment at some sites: private sector investment in Sapang-Bato (Korean) and Pamilacan (Ayala Foundation); Local Government Unit (LGU) investment/support in Hundred Island, Lake Sebu, and Mayon Volcano as well as national government support (DOT) to Rajah Sikatuna Protected Landscape. Working relationships between and among partners at majority of project sites were strengthened.

LESSON LEARNED

  • It is good practice to establish a continuing consultation with the DOT and DENR national and regional office stakeholders on the implementation of project activities to avoid complication of sensitive issues which needs immediate intervention by management.
  • Good working relationships by stakeholders established encourage commitment and support even beyond the project assistance
  • Serious conflicts between stakeholders surely hamper project progress
  • Capacity building of stakeholders is good investment
  • Partnerships between government, communities and tourism industry is further strengthened from the start to completion of project. The NESC, ETWG  continue providing direction and support to further the interest in of ecotourism development.
  • Committed LGUs  can be strong partners  
  • Hiring of technical consultants who have good track record on special fields facilitate appropriate direction, project management, product development, business enterepreneurship skills.
  • Guided implementation of small scale and doable ecotourism projects by organized local community stakeholders can showcase the positive social, economic and environmental impacts as indicators of poverty alleviation in the community.

 


 

Great Women Project

Project Name: Great Women Project

Area Coverage: Pamilacan Island

Implementing Agency/ies: PAWB

Duration: Sept. 2008 – June 2011

Objectives:

  • To develop an educational, resource-based , community-managed, low environment impact, and gender responsive Ecotourism Management Plan for Pamilacan Island; and
  • To enhance PAWB Guidelines in the Development of Ecotourism Management Plan integrating GAD Concerns.

Workplan:

Activity Target Date
Conduct of Training of Technical Advisers on Gender Analysis including GAD and WEE tools for PAWB technical staff 3rd week of August 2011
Enhancement and finalization of GA tools for ecotourism management and development 4th week of August 2011
Writeshop for the development of Gender Responsive Ecotourism Management and Development Guidelines and finalization of GREMPPI ( including carrying capacity study of Dr. Calanog-ERDB) 2nd week of September 2011
Meeting/consultation between PAWB, LGUs-Bohol and Baclayon for the adoption and integration of the GREMPPI to the LGU Tourism /Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) 2nd week of September 2011
MOA/MOU signing between LGU Bohol/Baclayon and DENR Region 7 on the GREMPPI adoption and integration to the Tourism Plan and CDP 2nd week of September 2011
Development of Modules on Terrestrial Resources Monitoring for Ecotourism 2nd week of September 2011
Pilot testing of the GREDMG (including Toolkit, carrying capacity guidelines and Terrestrial Res. Monitoring Module) in Quezon 3rd week of October 2011
DENR-wide monitoring visits and technical assistance to project sites December 2011
Workshop on the finalization of the GREDMG and the toolkit January 2012
Training of 30 stakeholders (LGU & PO members) on:
  1. Solid waste management & other environmental policies
  2. GREEN Kit and sustainable livelihood options for coastal areas
  3. Land management and tenurial instruments
January 2012
Presentation of the draft GREMDG to PAWB Technical Review Committee and PCW February 2012
Adoption and institutionalization of the GREMDG and Toolkit at PCW and PAWB March 2012
Printing and dissemination of the GREMDG and the Toolkit March 2012
Inter-NGA Forum on DENR Guidelines and Assessment Tools for GAD and WEE in Bohol March 2012
Training of 30 LGU/ local ENR and DOT Officers trained on the use of the GREMDG and Toolkit April 2012