A Visitor Management System for Mt. Isarog Natural Park

One of the outputs under the Mt. Isarog Integrated Conservation and Development (MIICD)/Sustainable Management of Mt. Isarog’s Territories (SUMMIT) Project

Published: February 2004
Prepared by: Dr. Josephine Alba (Research Division – University of Nueva Caceres) and Dr. Emelina G. Regis (INECAR)
Prepared for: The Protected Management Board – Mt. Isarog Natural Park and CARE Philippines
Funding Support: Commission on European Communities, Global Environment Facility-UNDP, The British Embassy Manila, The Government of Lower Austria (through CARE Austria), The Jeff Peierls Foundation and CARE USA

The project aimed to develop a visitor’s management system at Mt. Isarog Natural Park that will assist the PAMB, LGUs and the forest-edge communities in managing tourism. Specifically; it identified and characterized the tourism potentials of Mt. Isarog Natural Park, determined the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the tourism sites, and developed a visitor management system that will involve not only the PAMB and the LGUs but also the forest-edge communities.

The study identified the tourism attractions of Consocep, Tigaon; Curry, Pili; Del Rosario, Ocampo; Hiwacloy, Goa; and Panicuason, Naga City. Instruments used were: an Interview Guide and Evaluation System for Ranking the Potential Ecotourism Sites. The Interview Guide was constructed to determine the profile of the tourism attractions of the identifies barangays along with observations and consultation meetings with the community. An Evaluation System for Ranking the Potential Ecotourism Sites, the revised version of the Point Evaluation System used in Sorsogon Ecotourism was constructed for the ranking of the potential tourism attractions for each tourism sites. The visitor management system formulated was based on the profile of the potential tourism sites.

Results of the project reveal the following: 1) There are 4 potential tourism attractions at Consocep, Tigaon; 6 at Curry, Pili; 5 at Del Rosario, Ocampo; 4 at Hiwacloy, Goa; and 3 at Panicuason, Naga City. 2) There are identified constraints at barangays Consocep, Del Rosario, and Curry. Bottlenecks were observed at Consocep, Hiwacloy and Panicuason while the impacts of the strengths and opportunities outweigh the effects of the weaknesses and threats as long as the visitor management system is implemented fully, and 3) The Ecotourism Standards, Management Guidelines, and Communication Plant that included the protection of the ecosystem, maintenance of local culture and history, conservation of local culture and history, infrastructure and signboards blend with the environment, maintenance of the physico-chemical conditions of the area, and sustainability were formulated based on the profile of the potential tourism sites for each barangay.

The Visitors Management System for Mt. Isarog Natural Park can be successfully implemented through Community-Based Ecotourism. This is feasible because of two strengths in the area: 2) the presence of interesting ecosystems such as waterfalls and rivers/creeks with their component unique and endemic flora and fauna, and b) the willingness of the people to venture into ecotourism. To achieve this project, the forest-edge communities should undergo capability-building through skills training that includes environmental education and management projects. The former would enable them to also educate visitors while the latter would allow them to understand the ecosystem dynamics so that they could plan and implement properly the operations of the ecotourism project. Other important concerns of the management include organizational skills for an integrated management of a single Visitors Management System that will eventually involve all the forest-edge barangays and other attractions that may be developed later through guidance from the PAMB. Such system embraces knowledge and enforcement of environmental laws. It is also able to link with NGOs, schools, experts, external tourism operators and other organizations for scheduling visits, uniform fees, educational modules, and other services. This is the system that will be able to help the PAMB in the management of Mt. Isarog Natural Park concerning protection, conservation, and rehabilitation while providing sustainable livelihood for the local communities.