‘With 7,000 tropical islands on my doorstep, all ripe for exploration, I find it easy to like the Philippines. Love, on the other hand, is borne of subtler things. Love is borne of long rooftop jeepney rides through the mountains of North Luzon; of a frosty San Miguel at sundown on a sublime slab of Visayan sand; of a fresh-fish lunch, followed by a siesta on an interminable banca journey through Palawan’s islands; of friends with names like Bing and Bong; of phrases like “comfort room”; of—dare I say it—karaoke. Now that is love.”
This is how Greg Bloom of popular online travel blog, lonelyplanet.com, put into words the reasons he loves the Philippines. And as of August this year, there are 502,739 tourists who probably share with him the same feelings.
According to the Department of Tourism’s (DOT) Industry Performance for Travel and Tourism, August 2016’s tourist arrivals in the country grew 4.59 percent, higher than the recorded 480,689 tourist arrivals in August 2015. Despite the rise, however, there was a dip in this year’s visitor expenditure receipts that translated to P15.69 billion. This is 28.58 percent lower than August last year’s P21.97-billion earnings.
The statistics provided by DOT’s Economic Analysis and Information Management Division also revealed that Korea remains the top spending foreign market, with estimated expenditure of P102.88 million, followed by the US, with receipts amounting to P42.84 million; Japan, with P42.01 million recorded spending; Taiwan, with estimated receipts of P17.09 million; and Canada, with reported spending of about P14.29 million.
The country saw a 12.59-percent increase in the number of inbound tourists for the first eight months this year when 4,042,049 vacationers visited the country. This is 452,011 higher than last year’s 3,590,038 arrivals for the same period. The burgeoning number easily translated to P164.25 billion in total earnings from the travel and tourism industry.
A quick online search on why tourists visit the Philippines yielded about 28,600,000 results in 0.67 seconds. This only goes to show that, beyond the country’s sensational 7,107 islands, travelers will find millions of reasons more for booking that next trip to our luxurious tropical paradise.
Mother Nature has blessed us generously with natural splendor that is worth the appreciation and admiration of people around the globe.
Our Verde Island Passage, a strait that separates the islands of Luzon and Mindoro, connecting the South China Sea with the Tayabas Bay and the Sibuyan Sea beyond, is scientifically proven as the world’s epicenter of marine biodiversity. Our Taal Volcano is touted as the world’s “smallest” active volcano, curiously submerged in a lake. A Unesco World Heritage Site, our Palawan Underground River is listed on the elite New Seven Wonders of Nature roster.
Then, there’s the surreal experience of swimming with the butanding, or gentle giants of Donsol, also considered as the world’s Whale Shark Capital; the world-renowned powdery white-sand beaches of Boracay; the never-ending island- hopping, World War II sunken ships’ relic hunting, deep diving, or trouble-free snorkeling adventure in the spectacular limestone formed isles of Coron in Busuanga; then the imposing grandeur of the world’s perfectly coned Mayon Volcano; the captivating landscape of our Chocolate Hills; the stunning vista of sea of clouds on top of Mount Pulag, and the list goes on.
Sustaining the growth
The challenge to make sure we nurture what nature has blessed us with solely rests upon our shoulders. The key to enduring, sustainable progress is collaboration.
It is important for both public and private sectors to always meet eye-to-eye when it comes to the judicious use and management of the nation’s natural resources. The guiding principle must always be the long-term gain over short-lived return. After all, what we have in nature is literally all that we have got. We have but one Verde Island Passage, one Mount Mayon, one Tall Volcano, one Boracay, one Coron and so on. And we have lifetimes of generations to come for whom we must preserve and conserve these national treasures—not to forget, of course, the other nationalities who get to share with us the splendor of our landscapes and seascapes.
Simple economics dictate that consumption drives production. This culture of consumerism makes it imperative for both public and private sectors to see to it that preservation and conservation steps are judiciously taken to protect our natural resources.
We are not lacking for environmental laws, but enforcement is an altogether different matter. Hence exploitative, negligent and greedy mismanagement of natural resources must be meted out with the strictest legal sanctions.
Like a goose that lay golden eggs, tourism brings in the buck to families, communities, regions and the entire nation. To enjoy its golden eggs for a long time, we have to nurture our natural resources that bring in the tourists to our country. After all, we already know the story’s horrific end: Greed killed the gold-laying bird. We can’t afford such foolishness in real life.
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