"Tourism is a pillar of the country's economic development.
There is great opportunity for economic development, but the provincial government is not taking any chances to risk
Groundwork started in 1997 with the holding of the
The ecotourism program has clear aims: (i) put in place mechanisms that are environmentally sustainable, economically viable, and socially equitable; (ii) accelerate development for the benefit of local communities; and (iii) spread tourism benefits to rural areas in terms of employment generation and poverty alleviation.
Through efforts of the BTO, local communities were encouraged to take an active role. The program put up community-managed tour groups, such as the Coral See and Seascape Tour, operated by Basdio Farmers and Fishermen's Association (BFFA); the Banacon Mangrove and Seascape Tour, operated by Banacon Fishermen and Mangrove Planters Association (BAFMAPA); the Candijay Mangrove Adventure Tour, operated by Panadtaran Mangrove Association ( PAMAS ); the Cambuhat River and Village Tour, Operated by Cambuhat Enterprises Development and Fisheries Association (CEDFA); and Marine Life Tour, operated by Pamilacan Island Dolphin and Whale Watching Organization (PIDWWO).
These ecotourism enterprises provide alternative or additional livelihood for poor families, especially those belonging to people's organizations. The program invested capital. In
Cooperating in the program are the DENR, the Department of Tourism (DOT), and the New Zealand Aid for International Development (NZAID), which maintains the National Ecotourism Project Office (NEPO) to enhance the province's dolphin and whale watching activity.
As a result, people are now more deeply aware of the importance of preserving endangered species. They have increased their produce from the sea, and they have cleaned up the rivers and waterways of solid wastes, resulting in healthier and more abundant marine harvests. Tourism bodies, such as municipal and barangay tourism councils, have increased, widening the opportunities to inculcate ecotourism values among the people. With better and mutually beneficial linkages among NGOs, LGUs, government agencies, and people's organizations, communities that were once sleepy have become productive.