Get qual­ity tourists for Bo­ra­cay — ex­pert

The Philippine Star - - NEWS - By CATHER­INE TALAV­ERA

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.

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