ADB backs Palawan sustainable plan

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    Cliff view of Coron. (Reuters photo)
    Cliff view of Coron. (Reuters photo)

    The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said it will support the Department of Tourism (DOT) in the sustainable development of El Nido and Coron, Palawan.

    The ADB said in a statement yesterday it is working with the DOT in preparing a tourism development project that will ensure a sustainable environment for El Nido and Coron.

    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.

    The project is part of DOT’s Transforming Communities Towards Resilient, Inclusive and Sustainable Tourism (TouRIST) Program, a coordinated effort by various government agencies and local stakeholders in partnership with multilateral development banks in implementing sustainable tourism development in the country.

    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.

    The multilateral bank agency 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,” Kelly Bird, ADB country director for the Philippines, said.

    In conjunction with the DOT, the ADB has identified El Nido and Coron as two localities requiring investments in environmentally sustainable urban facilities and marine environment protection in anticipation of higher numbers of tourists visiting the islands over the next decade.

    “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 tourist demand,” Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, tourism secretary, said.

    The tourism chief created a project steering committee composed of senior officials from the National Economic and Development Authority, Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, and the Departments of Finance, Public Works and Highways, Interior and Local Government, Environment and Natural Resources, Health, and Transportation.