Philippine ecotourism has a new caretaker

The Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT) recently turned over the chairmanship of the National Ecotourism Development Council (NEDC) to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in a ceremony held at the DOT Auditorium in Manila. The NEDC, together with the National Ecotourism Steering Committee (NESC) and the Regional Ecotourism Committee (REC), was created in 1998 under Executive Order 111 to formulate and monitor the implementation of guidelines for the development of ecotourism in the Philippines. 

According to Tourism Secretary Roberto Pagdanganan, “though tourism is one of the major economic pillars of the country, we must not sacrifice the environment and the natural charm of our country as we further the development of key tourism sites to achieve a major boom in our economy through the tourism industry.”

“We at the DOT and the DENR will work hand-in-hand to ensure that our ecosystem doesn’t suffer and that the kind of development we are going to uphold will be sustainable enough to protect and preserve our natural resources,” Pagdanganan added.

The DOT and the DENR co-chair the NEDC, NESC, and RECs on a three-year rotation basis.  As chair of the three ecotourism bodies from 2001-2003, the DOT piloted several projects in key ecotourism sites.  These include the Dolphin Watch Pamilacan Marine Life Tour in Bohol, the Institutional Capacity Building for Banaue Tour Operators and Guides in the Ifugao Rice Terraces, the Sapang Bato Mountain Trekking Tour in Mt. Pinatubo, and the MT. Apo signages in Kidapawan, North Cotabato. 

Apart from the said projects, the DOT, through the assistance of the New Zealand Agency for International Development (NZAID), has also launched a website (www.philippinecotours.gov.ph) containing general information on ecotourism, the key sites, publications, events, networks, and ecotour packages and continues to publish the quarterly Philippine Ecotourism Network Newsletter.  It has also identified other key ecotourism sites in the country.  These consist of Batanes, Peñablanca, Cordillera Rice Terraces, Hundred Islands, and Mt. Pinatubo in Northern Luzon; the Wawa Dam, Mt. Makiling, Tagaytay and Taal Volcano, Mt. Isarog, Mt. Mayon, Mt. Bulusan, Mt. Guling-guling, Apo Reef, Tubbataha Reef, El Nido, and the underground river in Puerto Princesa in Southern Luzon; Mt. Kanlaon, Tañon Strait, Apo Island, Olango Island, Lake Danao, Bohol, and Sohoton Cave in the Visayas; and Siargao, Camiguin Island, Dipolog, Misamis Oriental, Agusan Marsh, and Mt. Apo in Mindanao.

A memorandum of agreement (MOA) on the implementation of activities under the project “Mainstreaming Ecotourism in Community-Based Natural Resource Management” was also signed between DOT and DENR.  Under this MOA, the DOT shall assist the DENR in developing the ecotourism product through the design and implementation of tour guiding services, information management, product packaging, and investment; encourage private sector participation in the development, packaging and marketing of the focal ecotourism sites; develop and implement a marketing plan for each of the focal ecotourism sites as well as other ecotourism sites identified in the National Ecotourism Strategy (NES); integrate the focal tourism sites in international and domestic promotional programs; recommend to the DENR appropriate policies to facilitate investment and visitor movement in focal ecotourism sites; and assist in the conduct of awareness building and training programs affecting local communities and stakeholders in focal tourism sites.

author: eTN staff

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