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Integrated Community-Based Eco-Tourism and Coastal Resource Management Program
Palompon, Leyte
As a tourist destination in Eastern Visayas known for the white sand bar of Kalanggaman Island, the municipality of Palompon in Leyte Province developed an eco-tourism program in 2011 that considered the needs of the environment, the local community, local government and tourists. Under the Integrated Community-Based Eco-Tourism and Coastal Resource Management (ICOMBTO-CRM) Program, the local tourism industry was systematically organized to promote a responsible, sustainable and internationally acceptable business scheme characterized by quality service to tourists.
The Palompon Municipal Eco-Tourism Council, a people’s organization established under Municipal Resolution No. 236-1306 in 13 June 2011, led the formulation of programs and policies to develop local tourism facilities and attractions that are built on the preservation of cultural and historical heritage of the area. Notable policies include the establishment of carrying capacities of tourism destinations.
The LGU follows a carrying capacity formula that determines the maximum number of people that could visit a tourist destination without causing environmental destruction. In Kalanggaman Island, for instance, the maximum carrying capacity of 500 visitors per day is strictly enforced. A Pump Boat Registration Drive was also conducted in nearby municipalities to facilitate the registration of all tourist pump boats to the island for easy identification and regulation. The Palompon Fisherfolks of Kalanggaman Association monitors fishing activities in the island sanctuary.
Aside from the usual tourist destinations in Palompon, the municipality introduced “Adlaw sa Danggit” during the spawning season, as one of its main tourist activities which offers a 20-hour experience which includes observing how fishermen remove the fish corrals (baklad) to ensure that no danggit is caught. While participants enjoy a unique experience, they also learn the importance of Municipal Ordinance No. 234-111295 imposing Total Ban on the Catching of Danggit during Spawning Season to allow the fish to mature to a desirable size for consumption. Because of this ordinance, Palompon was able to sustain stable fish catch, making it one of the main suppliers of dried boneless “danggit” in the market.
Under the program, the municipal Ecological Solid Waste Management Park evolved from a Material Recovery Facility to a tourist destination where visitors could learn the importance of segregation and recycling as a way to protect the environment. An estimated 1.8 tons of biodegradable waste and 4.2 tons of residual waste are collected from households every day. These accumulated solid wastes will be turned into organic fertilizers and/or densified synthetic commercial products at the park. Furthermore, the program launched Zero Visibility Climb that introduces tourist activities for persons with disabilities.
From these innovative tourist activities and destinations, the municipality has seen a significant increase of cumulative tourist arrivals from 54,624 for the period 2011 to 2013, to 158,880 for the period of 2014 to 2016. Total tourism revenue for a three-year period rose from PhP 10.3 million in 2013 to PhP 28.9 million by 2016. The success story of Palompon’s local tourism became a center of study by various LGUs in the country, who would like to learn from their experience and how it can be adopted in their respective LGUs.
Indeed, tourism could generate widespread benefits and impacts to the local economy and communities as a whole. The Palompon experience is able to demonstrate that local governments play a critical role on the success of its local tourism industry, as well as have a strong influence in conserving its resources. Various ordinances were enacted to further strengthen the LGU’s commitment in environment conservation and sustain its current initiatives to the succeeding years such as Municipal Resolution No. 165-131008 entitled “Every Month of October as Clean-up Month”; Municipal Ordinance No. 228-021095 entitled “Declaring Tabuk Island as Marine Park Fish and Bird Sanctuary”; Municipal Resolution 038-031016 entitled “Requiring All Applicants for Marriage License in Palompon to Plant Trees in Designated Areas”; Municipal Resolution No. 486-040416 entitled “Declaring 50-Year Old Trees in Palompon as Heritage Trees”; Municipal Resolution No. 130-081203 Ordinance entitled “Providing Preservation/Conservation/Protection and Management in the Development of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources”; and Municipal Resolution No. 521-2016 entitled “Approving Ten-Year Solid Waste Management Program”.
Vital to Palompon’s approach is the contribution of a full range of stakeholders and the community in planning and decision making in order to determine its long term interest. The local government of Palompon was able to have a profound influence on the local tourism industry by playing an essential part in the management of its resources that meets the needs of tourists and benefits its communities while maintaining cultural integrity and conserving its natural endowment for the future.
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