CUI cites huge ecotourism potential for Iloilo

CUI cites huge ecotourism potential for Iloilo

By Leonard T. Pineda I, Monday 26th of November 2012

ILOILO CITY, November 26 (PIA) --- Iloilo has a lot of potential for ecotourism but the percentage of awareness among Ilonggos is low.

In a statement issued by the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI-Phils), a recent market survey revealed that there is a need to raise public understanding towards the market value of ecotourism in the bioregion.

UP Los Baños Business Development Specialist Rhea Gumasing presented a value chain analysis based on the survey research which included results on students’ preferences on the types of tours entailing activities, food, accommodation, budget and mode of transportation.

The study indicates how Iloilo can immensely benefit from its rich natural resources and geographic landscapes.

“Imagine Iloilo is an urbanized area but it still has great rural settings in the upland areas. There is, however, a lack of awareness among the Ilonggo people on Iloilo's vast potential for ecotourism,” Gumasing said.

On one hand, Gumasing stressed her utmost concern towards a more important issue. “We first need to care for the environment before we could get a business out of it, and not the other way around,” she added.

In a forum focusing on the comprehensive analysis and recommendations on the ecotourism development in the bioregion, where Gumasing was resource speaker, representatives from the business sector and partner local government units expressed their interests and concerns.

Mr. Roy Gatpatan, a travel and tour operator suggested that it will help if tour operators and environment enthusiasts be invited to come and see the sites for them to make an analysis and see the marketability of the area.

Meanwhile, former Alimodian Mayor Dr. Mary Lou Alipao, owner and operator of the Maria Paz Resort in Alimodian said, “We have to prepare what to offer our tourists in terms of places, food, and security so that their experiences would also be worth it and we would be able to make a lasting impression on them.”

A number of participants agreed that engaging not only the community but also the business sectors could help market ecotourism sites in the four upland municipalities of the Tigum-Aganan Watershed (TAW) areas of Cabatuan, Maasin, Alimodian, and Leon.

On the other hand, relevant issues like educating school heads of the initiatives for ecotourism development done in the uplands were raised. These should also be considered so as to further their awareness of such sites and pursue with the continuous promotion to the students.

CUI Philippines Project Manager Benjamin Luz said an analysis in the value chain of the upland municipalities of the Tigum-Aganan Watershed (TAW) area could help assess the interests of our targeted market and customers.

“We target students because we want to go for institutional marketing. We will package tours for them and not only capture their interests in Iloilo ecotourism but to educate them of the sites in the uplands as well,” Luz said citing the result of the market study.

He added that the students mostly would prefer educational trips outside of Iloilo because they are not aware of the province’s affluence in ecotourism.

The forum was part of the initiative that CUI is undertaking for the advocacy of protecting the Tigum-Aganan Watershed in ensuring that the Ilonggo community be aware of and safe keep its existence. (JCM/LTP/CUI/PIA-ILOILO) - Timeline 2012