by Ernesto T. Solidum
Boracay, the fabled island tourist destination is site of Publishers’ Association of the Philippines, Inc. (PAPI) initiative to blunt the downward plunge of tourism revenues of the country. Joining the ranks are elite core of journalists from print and broadcast media, publishers from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao together with Aklan LGU officials and Boracay Foundation, Inc. (BFI)
Juan P. Dayang, PAPI Pres. earlier announced that 50 delegates from 17 provinces of the Visayan region were expected to come but it turned out the Sept. 25-26, 2010 guests doubled in attendance. The theme was "The New Media in the Service of Tourism and the Nation". Gracing the forum were Usec Jose Fabia, PIA, Usec Simeon Marfori, DOT, and Albay Governor Joey Salceda.
Usec. Fabia cited the impact of media coverage particularly the botched August 23 Quirino grandstand hostage crisis. Nevertheless, we need not dwell on the negative side but think positively on how we can recover from that adversity. The media has a definitive role to play in portraying our image both domestically and internationally. He spelled out PIA’s policies governing responsible journalism in a climate of shared interests and goals. Definitely, PIA is shedding its image from propaganda machine under Pres. Arroyo to development orientation of Pres. Benigno C. Aquino III.
"Tourism contributes 6.0 percent of GDP growth and 3.92 million jobs to our economy, said Usec Marfori. Our tourist arrivals is a modest 3.5 million annually but could be considerably increased with strategies to follow which are a) Developing new products aside from natural endowments like cultural heritage and relics of the past, b) Infra access to tourists attraction through public and private sector partnership, c) Marketing promotion in China, India, and the Middle East, and d) Implementation of Tourism Code by LGU’s.
Gov. Joey Salceda’s discussion of the Economics of Disaster Mitigation and its Impact on Tourism is considered mind boggling with research and statistical information. It all boils down to the fact that the increasing carbon foot-prints and unrelenting population growth have increased global temperatures by 1.4 to 1.8 degrees centigrade since 1880 when the Industrial Revolution began. Inexorably, we are now experiencing catastrophic weather disturbances such as El Niño, La Niña, and super typhoons.
"The Philippines contributes 0.24 percent, an insignificant volume of carbon dioxide to global warming. Yet it receives full impact as a result of massive appetite of industrialized nations to fossil fuels. Virtually, climate changes are impacting tourism, agriculture, fisheries, health, infra, transport our vital life supporting processes. Our next move is to claim carbon credits from our global polluters."
Aware of the UN Millennium Development Goals, the Albay Governor has embarked on successful projects like Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation. Presently Bicol registered an astounding 8.2 percent GDP growth in 2009 compared to national average of 1.1 percent. Thanks to the ingenuity and resourcefulness of its Chairman, Gov. Salceda of the Bicol Regional Development Council.
Turning to Aklan’s anemic money circulation despite P13 billion annual revenues, Gov. Salceda recommended development of cottage industries to address domestic and international markets. In addition, there must be aggressive promotion and funding of Aklan Sto. Niño Ati-Atihan Festival to encourage more tourist arrivals.
Feedbacks from PAPI delegates about Boracay include the high cost of tourist accommodations in hotels, passenger jeepneys and tricycles, vagrancy and over development of the island. Vice Governor Billie Calizo–Quimpo mentioned that Environmental and Tourism Code of Aklan have been approved. However, the Comprehensive Land Use Plan of Malay will be taken up in a joint SP and SB session on October 6, 2010. The latter hopes to resolve conflicting issues and concern of land use by stakeholders and developers and the long term sustainability of the island.
The occasion also marked the induction of interim officers of the Federation of Provincial Press Clubs headed by Mr. Allen Sison, also Pres. of Pangasinan Press Club. In his acceptance speech, Mr. Sison vowed to provide insurance coverage to all media practitioners through House Legislation.
Importance of media in tourism development could not be overstated. In the words of Chairman Henry O. Chusuey of Boracay Regency, media must be honest, responsible and balanced in the delivery of information. We counter that this is also our sublime and unequivocal mission. Indeed media and businessmen are responsible partners for development. /MP