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Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Human Development Forum

Sustainable tourism in a Biosphere Reserve, Puerto Galera, Philippines

Posted By: Miguel Fortes
Date: Friday, 17 March 2000, at 3:20 p.m.

In Response To: Combining research and education in protected area management / Ulugan Bay-Philippines. (Miguel Fortes)

In East and Southeast Asia, coastal tourism and travel has become the region's biggest industry. With this fact and the emerging consciousness of people towards environmental protection, there is a growing trend to utilise protected areas as tourism destinations. Hence there is the potential to negatively affect the integrity of these areas with the risk of losing their status as models of harmonious interactions between humans and the environment.

Puerto Galera, the small northern peninsula, north of the island of Mindero, 77 miles southeast of Manila, was designated a Man and Biosphere Reserve of UNESCO in 1973. However, the town has suffered years of neglect and unregulated development. Tourism is an important pillar supporting the town's development effort, it brings in jobs, revenue and foreign exchange. But tourism draws upon the environment for its survival and the town's backward environment programme is a serious impediment. Existing environmental issues are linked to the poverty of coastal and mountain dwellers and to the unabated degradation imposed by the national and provisional effort to industrialise and attain higher productivity.

An up-coming forum (ECOTONE IX) will provide an opportunity for ventilating sound ideas useful in planning and implementing development activities, especially coastal tourism, in a Biosphere Reserve. One of the major activities of the meeting will consist of field observation, evaluation and discussion of existing environmental conditions around resort establishments and land use sites in Puerto Galera. It is expected that the meeting will bring to light current practices and issues relating to tourism development in the Puerto Galera Biosphere Reserve which may help to guide future planning and actions in similar protected areas. One intangible, but highly significant benefit, will be the training of local entrepreneurs and stakeholders in participating in highly specialized and focused meeting sessions. This will help develop their capacity and confidence for future actions relating to the Puerto Galera Biosphere Reserve.

We will keep the Forum posted regarding results.

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