Today we have another guest post from David Aaron. Thank you for sharing, David, I appreciate it greatly. MindanaoBob
Tourism in the Philippines (Part 1)
A recent response to an article I wrote for this site made me realize that there were many misconceptions as to what tourism actually is and how it can benefit emerging economies. Right from the outset I have to admit that I am pro tourism and it’s actually the area in which I now work as a volunteer consultant after being in the private sector for a number of years.
The catalyst for this article was an assumption made by a reader of this site that accused the tourism sector of being rife with criminality, corruption and vice and that only the “big end of town” benefitted in terms of economic outcomes.
The reader also compared the Philippines to Paris where erudite visitors visited art galleries and restaurants then jumped back on the plane leaving nothing behind but money (I am not quoting the text verbatim but you can see the thread here (link) ) while in the Philippines it was all drugs, prostitution, black market economies, corruption etc etc. And all that is left behind is broad based poverty and a small number of ‘families’ becoming even richer.
Sure the Philippines has its underbelly where people are exploited, sure it has it’s corruption and drugs but frankly this is equally evident in many other countries whether in Asia or in so called advanced western countries.
I recall an article on this site that posed the question about whether food is a ‘tourist attraction’ and in my opinion (and based on research) it sure is! It makes up the tourism mix. A good destination (consultants’ speak for a country) is one that offers visitors a range of things including (not in any particular order) food, culture, natural attractions, interaction, activities, value, all in a safe environment, hopefully with a range of accommodation options and good transportation. More recently the industry is seeing significant rise in wellness, medical and extreme adventure tourism.
The Philippines have all these things in abundance. However some parts of the Philippines are better served than others. Is there room for improvement? There sure is! Are the Philippines well served by government management? They are definitely trying but again there is huge room for improvement.
What really excites me is the many Community Based Tourism (CBT) projects that are popping up all over the Philippines. Some are small enterprises but others are quite large. Either way they are “grass roots” projects that directly benefit the communities involved. Your community may also benefit from this approach but more of that in my next article.