Mindanao, Palawan ecotourism sites identified for promotion in EAGA
Manila (12 November) -- With the global potentials of ecotourism on an upbeat momentum, key representatives and players from the tourism sector from Mindanao and Palawan identified key ecotourism destinations in both islands in a forum held here recently in a bid to intensify tourism promotions in the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-the Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).
In Mindanao, these include Malawi Island and Dapitan for Zamboangapeninsula, Camiguin Island for Region 10, Davao Gulf and Samal Island for Region XI, Lake Sebu and Mount Apo for Region XII, Agusan Marsh for Caraga, and Lake Lanao for the ARMM.
The Kayangan Lake and Barracuda Lake found in the Coron Islands are the ecotourism sites identified for Palawan. Participants of the forum-workshop plans to create a network of ecotourism sites in Mindanao and Palawan which will be representative of the key ecotourism destinations in the area as part of the overall BIMP-EAGA ecotourism network.
The Philippines aims to highlight these sites during the BIMP-EAGA Community Based Ecotourism Conference in to be held in Manado, Indonesia this November.
The Philippine-EAGA forum workshop aims to contribute to the formulation of the ecotourism roadmap for BIMP-EAGA and to highlight the important role of ecotourism as a tool for poverty alleviation.
"What the Philippines and BIMP-EAGA want to develop is a kind of ecotourism that involves local, grassroots communities so they are part of the development and benefit from it," said Ms. Narzalina Lim, Asian Development Bank Consultant on ecotourism. She said that there should be capacity building for the local community to equip them with skills in running small businesses like food, "homestays" and other ecotourism related businesses.
She added that stakeholders must identify projects that are attractive and "have an iconic appeal" to tourist markets and that access to destination has to be improved.
The forum participants also discussed the strengths and weaknesses of the ecotourism resources in terms of destinations, infrastructure, funding and human resources and activities in terms of product development, planning, marketing, training and networking in the Mindanao regions including Palawan.
The opportunities and threats in the regions in terms of trends, markets, events, investments, funding and technology were also discussed. Lim said that the criteria for ecotourism are green standards for sustainability, respect for communities, social responsibility, economic sustainability, education) and the importance of monitoring and evaluation.
It was emphasized in the workshop that BIMP-EAGA has a strong potential to be an ecotourism destination given BIMP-EAGA's tourism resources.
The Mulu Caves of Sarawak, Mt. Kinabalu of Sabah, Tubataha Reefs and the St. Paul Subterranean River of Palawan are four BIMP-EAGA sites listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Around 109 stakeholders coming from the private sector, government, academe, non-government organizations attended the said forum workshop. (MEDCo) [top]