Tourism impacts are derived from various types of tourism development and activities The positive impacts of tourism generate many benefits: Project Management Assignment, UOM, Malaysia

Tourism impacts are derived from various types of tourism development and activities. The positive impacts of tourism generate many benefits, while negative impacts can gradually destroy tourism resources.

PALAWAN, Philippines — On a sweltering morning in April, park manager Jose Mazo mans a motorized patrol boat that glides through the turquoise waters of Siete Pecados, a 52- hectare marine protected area off the town of Coron in northern Palawan province.

A world-famous tourist destination in the Philippines, Palawan receives more than a million tourists annually; Siete Pecados’ vibrant coral reefs, part of the country’s total coral reef area spanning 26,000 km2, welcomed 51,000 visitors in 2019 alone.

The months of March up to May are Siete Pecados’ busiest of the year, and the daily monitoring routine isn’t new to Mazo, who has been at the MPA’s helm for more than 15 years. Except that this time around, not a single tourist has come to snorkel in the park’s 52 hectares of municipal waters.

Since March 17, Siete Pecados has been temporarily closed to visitors after the national government imposed a lockdown to stem the surge of positive coronavirus cases in the country, which has reached 8,488 with 568 deaths as of April 30.

The closure hurts the province’s economy, which is largely dependent on tourism; tourism receipts amounted to 83 billion pesos ($1.6 billion) in 2018 alone. “Supposedly, now’s the best time for us to earn more,” Mazo tells Mongabay. “But we’re forced to close the park, following the government’s community quarantine directive.”

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The site earned 5.1 million pesos ($100,000) from the entrance and environmental fees last year. This year, Mazo says they expect to lose 1.5 million pesos for March to May. But beyond the earnings, the closure has also impacted the 92 members of their association and their families.

“Each of them earns at least 8,000 to 15,000 pesos [$160 to $300] monthly for their outrigger boats that bring tourists to the marine park,” Mazo says. “Now, that sure income is gone.” Thousands of families who depend on community-based sustainable tourism have been affected by the pandemic and lockdown policy in the province.

In the provincial capital Puerto Princesa, some 420 kilometres from Siete Pecados, 400 families who work in the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, a 22,202-hectare UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its 8.2-km underground river, have lost their livelihood.

During the prime tourist months, the site hits its daily maximum of 1,200 visitors. In 2019, it earned 108 million pesos in entrance fees from its 331,356 visitors. “For this peak season, our collective income loss is 6 million pesos,” about $119,000, boat owners’ association representative Teresita Austria tells Mongabay. Like in Siete Pecados’ case, it’s the boat operators who have suffered the most: 314 of them have been left in limbo as their boats lay idle due to the lockdown. They used to earn 10,000 to 15,000 pesos monthly.

While the government is expected to ease the lockdown by May 1, the halt to tourism activities will linger for the duration of the pandemic and cut off the main income source for thousands of tourism-dependent families here, Mazo says. Palawan is considered a low-risk area for COVID-19 infections, with only two positive cases as of April 26.
But as the pandemic paralyzes Palawan’s tourism industry, resilient ecotourism communities embedded in biodiversity hotspots like Siete Pecados and PPSRNP have found sustainable ways to survive through the crisis, all while not having to abandon their environmental conservation initiatives.

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