Get quality tourists for Boracay — expert
The Philippines should focus on attracting quality tourists to Boracay island rather than on quantity that could only lead to sustainability problems.
Fernando Roxas, executive director of the Asian Institute of Management Andrew Tan Center for Tourism, told The STAR that “going for quantity will just create another Boracay of old.”
“For an archipelago with small and fragmented island destinations, it makes no sense to go for tourist volumes,” he said.
He added that, from an industry perspective, it is not the number of tourists that counts but the revenue. Besides, the coun- try’s infrastructure is not suited for mass tourism.
“Longer stays, more shopping, more activities and larger share of the customer’s budget will give the local economy better jobs and cash inflow…Globally, eco-tourists are prepared to pay premium for the unique experience that Philippine tourism has to offer,” Roxas pointed out.
In line with focusing on quality tourists, he said setting the carrying capacities of Philippine tourism destinations would ensure the sustainability of each site, although he stressed that this is not a simple task as “there is no universal formula for assessing the carrying capacity of a destination.”
The government is limiting the number of tourists visiting Boracay in a bid to ensure its sustainability. The study on Boracay’s carrying capacity, commissioned by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), found that the island and its swimming areas can only support 55,757 people per day – composed of 36,542 residents and workers and 19,215 tourists.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette RomuloPuyat earlier said the government is planning to set carrying capacities for other tourist destinations in the country.
“Each destination is unique and the parameter that would dictate maximum capacity would differ from destination to destination,” Roxas said.
He added that the carrying capacity of a tourism hot spot might also change over time as tourist demand increases or fluctuates and when new activities or attractions are offered.
Adoracion Navarro, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) undersecretary for regional development, earlier acknowledged that there had been reservations among stakeholders on the effect of limiting the number of tourists on revenues.
“I argued that the economic impact of regulating the number of visitors and accommodation can still be net positive if the primary tourism strategy is to grow the tourism expenditure receipt per capita. So, not necessarily growing the number of visitors but the revenues from each tourist,” she pointed out.
Navarro added that this could be done by offering high-quality accommodations and diversifying tourism attractions.
By increasing the diversity of services, more jobs can be created on the island.
“For one tourist, he can enjoy many activities on the island, not only going to the beach and dining. There can be a tour of biodiversity and interesting sights to see,” Navarro said.