Ecotourism to bring 14M guests-A A +A
Friday, March 7, 2014
ON A high projection, the Philippines could have two million foreign “ecotourists” and over 12 million domestic ecotourists by 2016, according to the National Ecotourism Strategy and Action Plan.
The plan, which was prepared by the National Ecotourism Steering Committee and Ecotourism Technical Working Group and released last month, expects potential gross earnings of up to $1.4 billion from foreign ecotourism by 2016. These are based on the foreign tourists’ profile of an average length of stay of 8.21 nights and average $83.59 daily expense.
In Central Visayas, it is projected that foreign ecotourists could reach 405,372 in 2016 on a high assumption and 40,537 on a low assumption. They project the region could get up to 893,425 domestic ecotourists by that year.
The National Ecotourism Development Plan is the country’s blueprint for development in ecotourism, which Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez believes is something the Philippines can excel in, due to its rich natural resources.
Worldwide, travel for leisure, recreation and holidays account for most of the reasons for traveling and ecotourism falls under this category. It is expected to be among the sectors that will grow quickly over the next two decades.
Jimenez said there is at least one ecotourism destination in each province of the country and that it is easy to name an ecotourism destination because there are so many.
Cebu, he added, “has almost everything,” from beaches, corals, mountains for exploration and birds.
Since 2010, Jimenez said the country’s tourism has grown substantially, citing the 4.3 million international arrivals last year.
He believes the figures would have been higher, had the country not experienced two big calamities during the last quarter.
Jimenez also noted the improving quality of the tourists visiting, saying tourism revenues have reached $4.4 billion due to an increased average daily expense of $100 a day and average stay of 9.6 nights.
He said the crafted plan is “the most important meeting of the minds” because it combines tourism and the care of the environment.
For USAID mission director Gloria Steele, the Philippines is “an excellent poster country for fostering ecotourism.” With the country located in the coral triangle, she said it can become one of the next hot destinations for ecotourism.
She noted that ecotourism has proven it can help locals improve their lives, citing USAID’s partnership with the local government units and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. She said the Olango Bird Sanctuary and whale shark conservation in Donsol, Sorsogon have transformed local communities from sleeping fishing villages into popular ecotourism sites.
While high growth has been observed in the last three years, Steele said much still needs to be done to ensure everyone benefits from tourism. “Tourism holds great promise for inclusive growth,” she said, adding that revenue from this sector provides the government with more funds to provide better services.
However, she said the private sector has a moral responsibility to comply with government policies. “Partnership in ecotourism is very important.” (MEA/Sun.Star Cebu)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 07, 2014.