Line of Sight

Experience the PH: Why and why not?

THE PHILIPPINES has recently been enjoying a boom in tourism. Travel enthusiasts from across the globe have been flocking to the Pearl of the Orient for a taste of its sumptuous platter of natural wonders with opulent cultural heritage and traditions on the side. The same promise of a fiesta of flavorful experience has not exempted its locals for an invitation to explore what’s beyond the reach of their own provinces.

This spurt of growth in both international and local tourists paved the way also for both foreign and local investment opportunities, acting as the main dish to fatten up the tourism industry through the expansion of the service sector through increased employment, foreign exchange earnings, better international relations, cultural exchange, and improved human welfare.

From a macro-perspective, a thriving tourism industry leads to the establishment of more tourism-related facilities and amenities including the construction of infrastructures like hotels and upgrade of the transport system needed to accommodate more tourists. Consequently, it opens up new jobs and brings out the entrepreneurial skills of small business owners to showcase the country’s delicacies and local products. It also improves the country’s foreign currency standing and image as an over-all investment hub.

Ultimately, it promotes the growth of the economy of our country. According to the latest report of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the Philippine travel and tourism industry contributed a total of P2.85 trillion to the local economy in 2016, equivalent to 19.7 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

From a micro- or an individual perspective, tourism provides people a relief from the monotony of daily routines. Travel, for many, serves as an avenue not only for fun and recreation but for rejuvenation of mind and body as well. A change in place and climate helps travelers to recharge their mind, body and spirit for better health and wellness.

It also allows people from various cultures to come together and expose themselves to each other’s diverse ideals and traditions, promoting mutual understanding, respect and multiculturalism—keys to cultural harmony and better international relations.

While so much can be said about the upside of augmented tourism in the country, like any grand hikay, there’s that ever-present after-party dilemma of a heap of dirty dishes. The drawbacks of tourism, unfortunately, include sociocultural issues, escalation in crime rates, and environmental hazards which may cause adverse effects to the tourist destinations and the host localities.

Sociocultural issues pertain to the loss of a traditional culture. This happens when people in a particular community modify their lifestyle, customs, and language due to the influence of those coming from foreign countries, e.g., to best fit the needs and wants of the tourists, thereby changing the status quo. These particular cases can cause stress in a traditional society, which may ultimately lead to an unreceptive and simulated environment.

Moreover, crime rates may also increase. Over the years, the boost in the tourism industry has, in one way or another, brought forth criminalities, such as theft, use or trade of prohibited drugs, and even prostitution.

Tourism can also be harmful to the environment. The detrimental effects among others may include increased pollution, soil erosion, natural habitat loss, and more. Dirty air due to increased volume of traffic is one such case. The expanded construction of recreational facilities adds more pressure and harm to natural land resources which may lead to land degradation. Moreover, as tourism prospers, the destructive effect of deforestation created by land clearing, continues. It is apparent that the tourism industry consumes water resources for the development of swimming pools, hotels, golf courses and the like. Consequently, these may lead to water shortages.

We cannot do without the above-mentioned disadvantages of tourism if we are to reap its benefits as well. But if we are to sustain such, it is empirical that we strike a balance between tourism and environment, tourism and local culture and tourism and local business. Tourists and locals must engage in activities that will maintain and add value to the community and patronize locally-owned enterprise, working hand-in-hand with the government who should also be investing in skills development and vocational education, as well as improving working conditions to enhance the tourism sector’s image and service quality. Whether we come as guests or play the role of the host, a grand celebration of our country’s natural magnificence that is tourism requires pro-active participation from all of us. 

(Ms. Cebalda is an Audit Senior at P&A Grant Thornton.   P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading Audit, Tax, Advisory, and Outsourcing firms in the Philippines, with 21 Partners and over 850 staff members.   For comments on this article, please email shierly.cebalda@ph.gt.com or PAGrantThornton.marketscomm@ph.gt.com. For our services, visit www.grantthornton.com.ph. Follow us on Twitter: @pagrantthornton and FB: P&A Grant Thornton.

 

As published in Mindanao Times, dated on 12 June 2017