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Ilonggo Network

Nature and tourism

During the Holy Week, and since it was a long break, many spent time either in mountains and beaches where tourist and recreational facilities are available. There were adventurous people who ventured in trekking mountain peaks while some went into diving. With the advent of social media, a good number of tourism sites in the country have become popular and are attracting more visitors.

I understand that people need a break, and if only financial resources are available, it is really worthwhile for everyone to visit our scenic places, since we have plenty, especially with the features of the Philippines that is comprised of numerous island ecosystems and mountainous landscapes. With the warm weather we usually experience during the Holy Week, it is but natural that we tend to explore more comforting places, like tourism sites.

During the recent Holy Week, based on some mainstream media reports and those circulating in social networking sites in the internet, many of our more popular tourism areas were congested with the influx of thousands of visitors. These sites included Baguio City, Sagada in Mountain Province, Boracay, Tagaytay, Coron, El Nido, Puerto Princesa, and Subic Bay, to name some. I've learned that even our very own Mambukal Mountain Resort in Murcia was also fully booked and yet many still attempted to be accommodated.

The growing number of visitors in many tourism destinations has also prompted the increasing construction of tourism facilities, like hotels, restaurants, shopping centers, and other recreational amenities. The proliferation of beach and mountain resorts has been an increasing trend these days.

There are also islands that have been transformed into exclusive hotels and resorts. However, many of these developments tend to focus on the traditional and mass tourism, with little or even no considerations in the fragility of ecosystems where they are located.

One good example is the development in Boracay, which many have pointed out, is no longer within the limit of its carrying capacity, especially with the phenomenon of algal bloom during summer in the area. The algal bloom is attributed to unsanitary and improper sewage disposal system in the island.

The development in some other sites has also altered the natural and scenic landscape. For instance, Baguio is now proliferating with housing and other infrastructures, and Tagaytay is also following with numerous housing subdivisions being constructed on its ridges. There is also one popular mountain resort in Negros Occidental that has obstructed the scenic view of a forested protected area.

While it is true that tourism is a big potential to fuel our local and national economy, it is also important to consider that investment in tourism should always include nature protection and conservation. The term ecotourism has become popular, and some investors are using it in promoting their tourism sites, when, in fact, what they have established is not within the context of ecotourism.

The concept of ecotourism evolved as an alternative to traditional and mass tourism and it means ecological tourism. As jointly defined by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Tourism, ecotourism is “ a form of sustainable tourism within a natural and cultural heritage area where community participation, protection and management of natural resources, culture and indigenous knowledge and practices, environmental education and ethics, as well as economic benefits, are fostered and pursued for the enrichment of host communities and satisfaction of visitors.” Any development and activities that does not follow this basic definition is not ecotourism at all.

It is worth noting that many of our tourism destinations capitalize on nature as main attractions, may it be pristine coral reef, white and crystal clear beaches, lush forest, gorgeous rivers and waterfalls, beautiful mountain landscape, and many others.

It is, therefore, important that these natural attractions be protected and conserved once they are being utilized for tourism purposes. The deterioration of the natural environment would eventually result in declining opportunities in tourism. *

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