Eco Tours in the Philippines - Sustainable Tourism & Conservation Laws

Enveloped within an otherworldly landscape of sea and jungle, the Philippines is a dream destination for many ecotourists. However, this is not the whole story of the Philippines. In fact, the low cost of living and doing business in the Philippines has also turned the area into a hotbed of environmental disputes. Tourists that are accustomed to western environmental laws may find the comparably sparse regulations present in the Philippines to be surprising. However, there have been a few legal steps toward preservation and conservation initiatives around the country that are of some note.

The largest and most important array of these emerging environmental laws are derived from the powers set forth in Executive Order 111. In the order, a definite framework for the creation of a regulated ecotourism state in the Philippines is laid out. Among the major contributions of this order are the creation of the National Ecotourism Development Council and various national and local ecotourism steering committees. These bodies are responsible for the design of sustainable, long-term business practices in Philippine ecotourism. They are also responsible for the implementation of these plans and the enforcement of the regulations that they put forth.

The largest impact that this has on ecotourists looking to visit the Philippines is that it makes the country much more accessible. With this greater level of access has come a greater level of regulation, but the majority of these regulations have to do with the amount of money that tourism companies must invest into the local economy. The largest negative impact this could have on ecotourists is that it could drive the price of their trips up slightly. On the other hand, this also means that it is a little more difficult for over-development to destroy the landscape that brings tourists here in the first place.

In light of this more structured approach to environmental laws in the Philippines, there has been a healthy growth in tourist businesses countrywide. Tourists can kayak in some amazingly unique habitats, getting a silent view that would not be possible on foot. Kayak tours are very popular due primarily to that quiet nature. The more silent the tourists, the less likely they are to disturb the wildlife, and consequently the more likely they are to see wildlife on their trip. Snorkeling and scuba diving are also extremely popular activities in the Philippines, with a large number of tourists flocking the shores of these islands every year for this sole purpose.

Like in many other smaller countries, ecotourism activities are often handled on the local level. That is, local governing bodies create specific rules, regulations, tours, and managers for specific areas. For the people of the rural Philippines, this has been a major economic boon. This is because many of these local governing bodies require that tourists hire local guides to take them into protected local areas. This is not necessarily true for all areas in the Philippines, but there are some areas that engage in this practice. While some ecotourists may not enjoy the idea of spending the extra money, this money generally goes directly to the guide and his family. In essence, these measures are put in place to help ensure that the local community gets its fair share of all monies earned by the use of their traditional lands. This also helps to make sure that very strict ethics are followed in relation to how tourists interact with the land. After all, these local villagers also use this land for agricultural and other resources, so they are intrinsically bound to protect its health. The result of these ‚Äúlocalized‚Ä? measures is a healthier environment and a healthier local economy.

While the Philippines may have a ways to go in terms of modern environmental laws, the country is not without its natural beauty and splendour. It truly is one of the few places of its kind, in that it contains all of the major ecosystems that warm-weather or tropical tourists look for when deciding on a vacation spot. Though they are still fairly behind the times with respect to conservation, the laws are quickly becoming more applicable to 21st century governance, and will only become more-so with the passage of time.