The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Department of Tourism (DOT) are set to partner for a tourism development project that will ensure sustainable environments for the fast-growing tourism towns of El Nido and Coron in northern Palawan.
In a press statement released by the ADB on Wednesday, it said the two municipalities require “investments in environmentally sustainable urban facilities and marine environment protection in anticipation of higher numbers of tourists visiting the islands over the next decade”.
Tourism Sec. Bernadette Romulo-Puyat also said in the statement that with the ADB’s help, the Philippines wants to ensure the province’s rich marine ecosystem is preserved as it is the “last ecological frontier”.
“Palawan is known as the country’s ‘last ecological frontier’ and we want to ensure its rich marine ecosystem, particularly in El Nido and Coron, will be protected amid the rapid growth in tourism demand,” Puyat was quoted in the statement.
The project is part of the tourism department’s Transforming Communities Towards Resilient, Inclusive, and Sustainable Tourism (TouRIST) program, a coordinated effort to implement sustainable tourism development in the country with various government agencies and local stakeholders in partnership with multilateral development banks.
The statement said ADB will be supporting the DOT-led program by offering solutions and financing to address the immediate need for vital urban infrastructure and services, such as solid waste management, drainage and sanitation, and clean drinking water in El Nido and Coron.
ADB will also help build the capacity of local stakeholders to protect and conserve healthy oceans and rehabilitate key biodiversity-based tourism sites. The project is planned for delivery in the fourth quarter of 2020.
To ensure tourism benefits local communities, ADB will also explore innovative funding to local business enterprises and community-based groups for skills and product development to improve the quality of services in El Nido and Coron.
“This project is critically important for ADB because we share with the Philippine government the goal of seeing local economies thrive on an environmentally sustainable path. Tourism, when managed properly, can be a catalyst for inclusive development that can lift residents of El Nido and Coron out of poverty,” said ADB country director for the Philippines Kelly Bird.
A joint ADB and DOT team visited El Nido and Coron earlier this month to hold consultations with local government officials and local stakeholders as part of the preparations in designing the project.
Puyat created a project steering committee composed of senior officials from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), and the Departments of Finance (DOF), Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Health, and Transportation.
ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. In 2018, it made commitments of new loans and grants amounting to $21.6 billion. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.