Comprehensive Development Plans in the Philippines from long ago considered tourism as only a ‘footnote’ in the economic plan. Now, tourism has been recognized as a major economic activity, and it is due to this that the 1991-2010 Tourism Master Plan (TMP) was created. The Master Plan’s main goals were not only to develop the economic dimension of tourism, but also to help socio-cultural and environmental management. However, tourism in the Philippines must have comprehensive planning and support in its implementation.
A lot of the Tourism Areas defined by the TMP were presented broadly and needed further detailing. The paper used the area of Northern Palawan (represented by the municipalities of Busuanga, Coron, El Nido, Culion, and Taytay), which has benefitted from tourism planning (with its latest tourism plan being the Sustainable Environmental Management Project in Northern Palawan or SEMP-NP) as an example on how the principles of tourism planning are applied due to its comprehensive approach.
The Tourism Structure Plan for Busuanga-Coron considered several Tourism Development Areas (TDAs), which is a cluster of Tourism Sites (TSs) with a common theme and geographical proximity. The first TDA, Coron Island, is known and treated as the “main attraction.” TDA-2, The Bintuan-Concepcion Area, is mostly known as a dive site due to its diverse marine ecosystem. TDA-3, The Calauit Island Area, makes for a great wildlife reserve hampered by limited accessibility and inadequate facilities. TDA-4, the Maricaban Bay area, is sustained by two premier resorts which are responsible for opening the northern part of Busuanga Island to tourism. Other TDAs were based on their readiness for development.
In order to make tourism in Busuanga-Coron environmentally sustainable, six initiatives have to be taken. The first is to develop the primary TDAs in the areas since they anchor the spatial framework for tourism development. The second is to develop new TDAs whose success depends on the primary TDAs. The third is the improvement of both external and internal accessibility. The improvement of external accessibility can be done by upgrading the main gateways along with the ferry and air transport services that complement it. The improvement of internal accessibility can be done by the construction of new roads, along with the improvement of the main roads, the local ports, the bus services, and the boat services. The fourth initiative is the immediate improvement of power and water services; green technology is worthwhile for the isolated areas. The fifth initiative is for Coron to have a sound fiscal, legal, and policy support framework to help investment and tourism development. The sixth initiative is the improvement of the Tourist Service Centers to help project positive images of the area.
One of the purposes of the Tourism Structure Plan is to expand tourism activities in the tourism sites in Busuanga and Coron, which builds on the strengths on the four primary TDAs. There are detailed concepts which go into the specifics on how the TDAs can be developed. To be specific, five out of eight Concept Plans were made considering that they were ready for tourism development.
The first concept plan is for Coron Island. The island offers kayaking, swimming, snorkelling, and Tagbanua tours which can be experienced in 1-2 days. The proposed tourism activities will be low density and low impact, taking advantage of its marine environment (examples of TSs in it being Siete Pecados and Maquinit Hot Springs). It also has island destinations in Uson, Dinanglet, Dimanglet, Malcapuya, Dicalabuan, and Bulalacao. The Tourist Service Center of Coron is slipping to urban decay and needs improvement and development.
The second concept plan is for Bintuan Island. Its main attraction is diving in its world-renowned World...