Learning Ecotourism and Heritage Tourism models
Global Network Week: A Management Course on Ecotourism and Heritage Tourism for students of the Global Network for Advanced Management
09-13 March 2015
The W. SyCip Graduate School of Business and the Dr. Andrew L. Tan Center for Tourism of the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) conducted a weeklong Sustainable Tourism Management course for students of the Global Network for Advanced Management (GNAM). The course is comprised of a one-day classroom session at Pico De Loro in Nasugbu, Batangas, a volcano trek and heritage tour at Taal, Batangas, and on-site visits in Anilao, Batangas.
The students spent their first day at Pico De Loro, Nasugbu, Batangas. Students from Yale University (4) and Seoul National University (3) participated in the course. All of them are having their first time visit in the Philippines. The students were eager to learn more about what the Philippines has to offer.
Today’s program started with an introduction to the course by Mr. Mark Daniel V. Chan, Program Director of the AIM – W. SyCip Graduate School of Business. This weeklong course aims to introduce principles, theories, business models, and case studies in the responsible development and management of tourism destinations.
The classroom session started with a brief overview of the Philippine economy and tourism industry delivered by Dr. John Paolo R. Rivera, Program Manager of the AIM – Dr. Andrew L. Tan Center for Tourism. Students were introduced to the county’s sights and sounds, peculiarities of the Philippine society, performance of the Philippine economy, and the direction of the Philippine tourism industry.
Afterwards, Prof. Fernando Y. Roxas, Executive Director of the AIM – Dr. Andrew L. Tan Center for Tourism, provided students with a guiding framework on how sustainable tourism work. According to Prof. Roxas, sustainability is explained by conservation, commercialism, environmental stress, and political interference. Prof. Roxas also emphasized that for sustainable tourism to grow, consultation among stakeholders is important. When stakeholders discuss, they can recognize opportunities for integrating tourism with other economic sectors to realize an area's sustainable development.
The students were privileged to have listened to Mr. Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan, Vice Chairman of the National Advisory Council, World Wildlife Fund Philippines. Mr. Tan discussed the concepts and principles of the limits of acceptable change (LAC). The LAC is built upon eleven principles that have surfaced from research on visitor impacts and growing public interest to be involved in protected area decision-making. Likewise, the concept of carrying capacity was examined. Carrying capacity, as far as tourism destinations are concerned, can be defined as the quantity of tourists that can or should be supported by a destination or the environment. However, Mr. Tan underscored that the carrying capacity paradigm failed because it asked the wrong question, i.e. “how many is too many?” Research has shown that “many problems of recreational use were a function of human behavior rather than the number of visitors.”
The presentation of Mr. Tan was followed by Ms. Mariglo Laririt, Director of Sustainability of El Nido Resorts (ENR). Ms. Laririt presented a study in sustainability and resilience particularly the quadruple bottom line strategy that ENR employs to advocate responsible tourism and exercise stewardship over its natural environment. These strategies are: (1) financial growth (generate profits); (2) environmental stewardship (sustainable resort operating practices, environmental education, biodiversity protection, mangrove rehabilitation, environmental research, coastal cleanup, coordination with law enforcement, and buoy maintenance); (3) community engagement (skills training, enhancements, and seminars, organic farm demo, medical missions, outreach programs); and (4) organizational development (hire local, train local, employee training). Ms. Laririt emphasized that the lessons ENR learned from its experiences in being a prime mover of environmental sustainability – “never be complacent about financial profitability, consider investment in environment as normal business expense, and [treat the] community as an important ally and a provider of key resources.”
From today’s discussions, it has been made clear that that Ecotourism is a form of sustainable tourism within a natural and cultural heritage area where community participation, protection and management of natural resources, cultural and indigenous knowledge and practices, environmental education and ethics, as well as economic benefits, are fostered and pursued for the development of host communities and satisfaction of visitors.
On their second day, students explored the town of Taal, Batangas. Students traveled through time as they visited Taal’s impressive historical sites and colonial architecture. Mr. Bennet Amoroso of Casas Taal brought students to the 1755 St. Martin de Tours Basilica, Asia’s largest Catholic Church. Students also visited the Don Gregorio Agoncillo “White House”, Casa Ylagan-dela Rosa, and Casa Villavicencio—restored “Bahay na Bato” or adobe stone houses that reflect the Filipino’s struggle for independence over the centuries. During a visit to Our Lady of Caysasay Church, Amoroso recounted the story of a fisherman who found the miraculous statue of the Virgin Mary in Pansipit River in 1603. The healing waters of Sta. Lucia Well are also attributed to an apparition of Our Lady of Caysasay. To discover more of Taal’s contemporary culture, students went to the public market to buy souvenirs, local delicacies, and tropical fruits to try later on.
On the third day, students hiked Taal Volcano—the smallest active volcano in the world. With over 47 craters and 35 volcanic cones, it is also known to be one of the most deadliest. Majority of Volcano Island emerged from a brutal eruption in 1911, which killed thousands of people in surrounding areas. Many eruptions have since then sculpted the island’s unique appearance. To get there, the group took a forty-minute boat ride through the scenic stretch of Pansipit River and Taal Lake. Upon arriving on the Island, students embarked on a 1.5-hour hike—some on foot, others on horseback—to Crater Lake. Their efforts were rewarded with stunning 180-degree views of the crater.
The last leg of the course brought students to Anilao, one of the richest micro-dive destinations in the Asia Pacific region. Its coastline has some of the highest concentration of diverse marine life on the planet. Students stayed at the Mountain Province-inspired Bontoc in Batangas Bed and Breakfast (BBBB) in Mabini, Batangas. BBBB’s cliffside location overlooks the West Philippine Sea. Eager to enjoy Anilao’s marine life, all of the students went on their first ever SCUBA diving experience at the foothills of BBBB, only a few hundred meters away.
In a formal lecture, Mr. Romeo Trono, owner of BBBB, former Country Director of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Philippines, discussed Conservation International’s (CI’s) proposed ecotourism plan for the Turtle Islands Wildlife Sanctuary (TIWS) in Tawi-Tawi, southwestern Philippines. The Turtle Islands are the only major natural nesting ground for green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) in all of Southeast Asia. In a bilateral agreement signed in 1996, Philippine and Malaysian governments established the Turtle Islands Heritage Protected Area (TIHPA), the first and only trans-frontier protected area for marine turtles in the world. Trono espouses tourism as a means to: (1) increase livelihood opportunities for locals; (2) ease territorial tensions between the Philippines and Malaysia; (3) improve security in the area, and (4) ultimately rid the prevailing negative perception of the region as a conflict area. He also discussed the many challenges involved in development and conservation—stressing the pivotal role of political buy-in and local community participation when initiating ecotourism in the TIWS.
Indeed, the private sector, together with the local government, occupies a critical role in the management of ecotourism and heritage tourism sites. In this contemporary period, there is a need for stakeholders to engage in socially responsible undertakings – pursuing profit maximization, but also environmental protection, heritage conservation, tourists' experience, and community benefit.
This documentation has also been featured at the Global Network for Advanced Management website. Visit http://advancedmanagement.net/content/gnw2015-report-philippines
The documentation for Pico De Loro was prepared by John Paolo R. Rivera while the documentation for Taal and Anilao was prepared by Ma. Andrea C. Liamzon, both from the AIM – Dr. Andrew L. Tan Center for Tourism, who travelled with students as part of their Global Network Week experience.