Gov wants national government to fund carrying capacity studies

Governor Edgar Chatto brings the issue of a tourism area’s carrying capacity anew as Bohol tourism stakeholders gathered for the Forum on Sustainable Tourism: Bridging the gaps between standards, legislation and practices, March 28 at the Reynas Garden, Tagbilaran City.
Carrying capacity, a critical consideration in sustainability, is the maximum number of individuals that can be accommodated in an area without significantly affecting the state of the environment, the level of the visitor’s satisfaction and the local culture.
According to former research and project officer of the Department of Tourism and a professor of the University of the Philippines Institute of Tourism Carlos Libosada Jr., the issue on carrying capacity can even be categorized into environmental and social.
Environmental carrying capacity takes into consideration the impacts tourism brings in an area and may include waste generation, food and water consumption as well as the physical effects of over presence of people in a hiking trail that could cause soil erosion.
Ever since Bohol started to be a known tourism destination, local leaders have been pressing for the agriculture sector to fill in the food production gap considering that, at present, tourism arrivals in Bohol has almost equaled the local population, while the local food production has since been insufficient.
Carrying capacity also considers the wildlife resources that may be affected by the huge groups coming in, like the tarsiers for example. Moreover, certain animals have adverse reactions to human presence, like in birdwatching sites.
On the other hand, social carrying capacity is the actual number of people who can truly enjoy a destination or activity, without having to be rushed because another big group is coming.
Considering the following and the technical know-how needed for the local government units so they can impose carrying capacity limitations in areas considered eco-cultural tourism, and the resources needed to generate these studies, Chatto shared an idea during the forum.
When carrying capacity studies entail huge resources which local governments may not necessarily have, the governor suggested that the DOT, Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Interior and Local Government to pilot select provinces and destinations and identify tourism areas needing the studies, so that the national government can fund the studies and hopefully present to local stakeholders the figures to maintain a sustainable destination.
Also among the gaps which the stakeholders discussed for potential solutions are the transport accreditation problems, hotel and restaurant accreditations, and tourism workers and stakeholder accreditation in line with the Tourism Code.
Also discussed during the forum was DENR programs on ecotourism and Protected Areas as well as Cave management, Transport Franchising programs, Environmental Laws and the compliance of tourism establishments and updates on maritime safety and Security Programs for Sustainable Tourism.

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