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Tourism in an Archipelagic Setting
Evangeline M. Ortiz

The Philippine government envisions a tourism industry that is nationalist in content, culturally sensitive, environmentally protective, community responsive, welfare conscious, people participative and economically stable. There is urgency to preserve the integrity of tourism destinations so governments are now espousing the adoption of strategies to promote sustainable tourism development.

As defined by the World Tourism Organization, this involves "the management of all resources in such a way that the economic, social, and aesthetic needs are fulfilled, while maintaining the destinationís cultural integrity, the essential ecological processes, biological diversity and life support systems." Unfortunately, in the Philippines, existing laws and their implementation run contrary to the sustainable development of tourism destinations.

The Philippine tourism industry is highly conscious of and affected by the archipelagic nature of the country. It is endowed with many scenic landscapes and seascapes. The geographic separation accounts for its diversity in culture, arts, customs and traditions which are capitalized on in promoting the country as a destination with a multiplicity of alternatives. The uniqueness of each area is even emphasized in the marketing thrusts.

But the development and planning of Philippine tourism is beset by many special problems resulting from its geographic and demographic position. The physical capacity of the tourism sector is limited by its inability to move large volumes of tourists to other parts of the country outside the urban areas. This is due to the lack of strategic infrastructure, particularly road networks, transportation and communication. Another factor is the absence of clear land use planning and development policies that make it difficult to develop tourist zone areas.

The University of the Philippines can support government efforts by conducting research and policy studies and recommending legal and administrative reforms needed to coordinate and integrate the efforts of government entities responsible for tourism planning and development. The end goal of these studies would be the creation of blueprints for developing tourism in particular regions and in specific provinces.

The research thrusts in the area of travel and tourism are as follows: (1) development of a wholistic approach for estimating the carrying capacities of tourist destinations, particularly islands and coastal areas; (2) effects of the devolution of functions to local governments on the implementation of laws governing sustainable development of tourism destinations; (3) sociocultural impact of tourism, particularly on indigenous communities, intricacies of social dualism, and the acculturation process that results from the introduction of alien cultures and its effect on the locals; (4) alternative governance arrangements, specifically on increased community participation in tourism planning and management; and (5) analysis of the regional and tourism master plans in terms of their adherence to the principles of conservation and sustainable development.

Specific areas of research related to oceanographic studies, coastal zone development, and overall environmental management include: (1) determining the impact of tourism on marine life and biodiversity; (2) tourismís effect on the water quantity and quality management; (3) pollution loading to the marine environment from industrial, agricultural and domestic sources; and (4) technology adaptation, specifically on the extraction and use of sea water for water supply.