Case Study on Community-Based Ecotourism Activities in Donsol, Sorsogon: Seeing Ecotourism as a Conservation Tool Towards Sustainable Development
UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES SCHOOL OF URBAN AND REGIONAL PLANNING Term Paper Case Study on Community-Based Ecotourism...
UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES SCHOOL OF URBAN AND REGIONAL PLANNING
Term Paper Case Study on Community-Based Ecotourism Activities in Donsol, Sorsogon: Seeing Ecotourism as a Conservation Tool Towards Sustainable Development
Submitted to: Dr. Marideth Bravo Professor
Submitted by: Vinson P. Serrano Plan 201A
Table of Contents
Title Page Introduction
Background of the Study
Objectives of the Study
Ecotourism and Carrying Capacity: Definition
Donsol Tourism Activities
Establishment of Carrying Capacity
Donsol: Ecotourism as Conservation Tool Towards Sustainable Development
Donsol Ecotourism and its Urban Development Implications: Current Scenario and Recommendations
Appendices Donsol Present and Future Development Donsol Comprehensive Land Use Plan on Tourism Table 1: Inventory on Tourists Sports/Attraction General Base Map Proposed General Land Use Map Tourism Facilities Map Communication Facilities Map Transportation Facilities Map 2
Introduction: Donsol, Sorsogon: An Ecotourism Destination Donsol is a coastal town with a total land area of 152.99 sq. km. and is located at the northwestern part of the province of Sorsogon, which occupies the southern terminus of the Bicol Peninsula. Of the total land area, about 25.64 sq. km. comprises the built-up urban area and 15.68 sq. km. is devoted to agricultural purposes, and about 13.86 sq. km. is reserved for recreational and tourism purposes. Some 5.33 sq. km. of undifferentiated lands including waterways of are not fully developed. It is bounded on the north by the municipality of Jovellar, Albay, on the northwest, by the municipality of Pio Duran, Albay, on the south by the Burias Pass and on the east part by the municipality of Pilar, Sorsogon. It is geographically located about 12° 54' 26.896" north latitude and 123° 36' 28.867" east longitude. It is 66 kilometers away from the City of Sorsogon and 51 kilometers away from the City of Legazpi in the province of Albay. A provincial road connects Donsol to the municipality of Pilar while provision for road network connecting Donsol to the two adjacent municipalities of Jovellar and Pioduran has been considered and included in the development plan of the municipality. The creation of Donsol as Settlement, originated in the latter part of the 18th Century. It was said that a group of refugees led by a certain Francisco Noradi, collectively called “Miraya” in reference to residents near Mount Mayon near the Province of Albay, escaped and settled to a place away from the furry of said Volcano during one of its destructive and horrifying eruptions. Donsol got its name from “donsol” or “dosol”, an indigenous local medicinal plant, which grew abundantly in the settlement area. A more plausible version was about a blacksmith in the place, famous for his skills and of his “donsolan” – a Bicol term for anvil or iron stand upon which the blacksmith pounds and forges red-hot iron into tools or weapons. Unfortunately, the name of said blacksmith was wire-corded in history. Eventually, people called the whole settlement area as Donsolan. In the early years of this settlement and during Spanish rule, Moros from Mindanao who refused to acknowledge Spanish colonization, periodically marauded and invaded the 3
coastline of Bicol. Thus, the inhabitants of Donsolan were constrained to abandon the place and create a new settlement wherein the municipal government was established. The place is now called Brgy. Banuang Gurang or Old Town while the former settlement area is now called Brgy. Dancalan. To defense the perennial Muslim invasion, the provincial government of Albay sent coast guard patrol to Quipia River (now Donsol River) and to the Burias Pass and this hostile situation improved. After security had been attained in the area, the seat of the municipal government was transferred to a new place just across the river from Brgy. Dancalan. This new place had opportunity for expansion being on a wider plain and now the present site of the Poblacion area. During year 1800, Donsolan became an independent municipality and possess legal existence as one of the towns in the Province of Albay, with Don Mariano Adrian elected as the first Gobernadorcillo. In the book “Ibalon” written by Don Mariano Adrian, the government of Alcadia Mayor de Albay decreed however, Donsolan as an independent town in year 1880. It is of faith and religion, the existence of the municipal parish was proven by the water wells within the church of Quipia. Furthermore, records show that the first baptism was held on January 1890 with Father Monico Barrameda as Parish Priest. The Parish saint of that is Senior San Jose and celebrated the town fiesta in his honor on the 19th of May every year. During year 1894, Sorsogon was declared as a separate province. Along with this declaration, Donsolan and Pilar were separated from Albay on October 17, 1894 and included in the newly declared province in exchange for the towns of Rapu-Rapu and Manitto. The name Donsol means “Mr.Sun”. Donsoleños however, never had any pagan worship to the sun. It may be presumed that the mapmakers wanted the town to be likened to the Sun. e.g. full of energy and accordingly, the Spaniards recorded and place as Donsol. Through the years, the Municipality of Donsol basically remained as an Agricultural Town. With the improvement however, of the vital transportation and other infrastructure facilities, the municipality is gradually progressing socially and economically. Much to its advantage is the now worldwide recognition of the municipality as one of the best place for animal encounter. Tourism economy now significantly contributes to the development of the 4
municipality. This is manifested by the regular infux of both domestic and foreign tourists all eager to see and interact with the visiting whale sharks locally known as Butanding along the coastal waters of the municipality particularly during Butanding Season. The settlement role of the municipality of Donsol under the Sorsogon Provincial Physical Frameworks Plan, Year 1993- 2002 is that of a small town. Its principal role therefore is as a Small Agri-Processing. 1 Sitting on the northwestern part of Sorsogon Province, Donsol marks the provincial boundary on the northwest, adjoining the province of Albay. The town has 51 barangays, 11 of which are situated in the coastal areas of the municipality. With a population of 39,995, population growth is relatively high, at an annual rate of 3.23%, higher than the national average of 2.36%. Fishing is the primary source of food and income. Noel Castro, a former coastal barangay captain reports that, prior to the tourism boom, there had been few development projects in his community; until recently and the common sources of drinking water were water pumps and open wells.2
Background of the Study: In January 1998, the sudden discovery of whale sharks or Butanding (Rhincodon Typus) along the shores of Donsol, Sorsogon in the Bicol region have turned a once-quiet town from an ill-equipped community into a potential ecotourism destination in the country. Such discovery brought an influx of tourists and unprecedented effects of the growing community development giving rise to several community development problems. Moreover, the concept of ecotourism is to be further established in the operations of the municipal planning development as it aims to become an effective tool for conservation towards sustainable development. 3 In a span of five years, Donsol, Sorsogon was transformed from a fifth class municipality to third class due to the economic benefits and contribution of this activity.
Donsol Comprehensive Land Use Plan. Local Government Unit of Donsol,Sorsogon. 07/17/2009. Community-Based Ecotourism and Coastal Resources Management Project in Donsol, Sorsogon. http://www.wwf.org.ph/about.php?pg=wwd&sub1=00011. 07/17/2009. 3 Serrano, Vinson P. Aquatika: Whale Shark Exploration Center. University of Santo Tomas Undergraduate Thesis. Espana,Manila. 03/2010. 2
Inspite of the occurrence of whale sharks in other parts of the world, there is no other place like Donsol, where the major school of whale sharks is found at a particular time. Such sighting proved that the bodies of water in Donsol are rich with the presence of phytoplanktons- microscopic species which are the main food of these gentle giants. From then on, the continuous relationship of the whale sharks and the shores of Donsol primarily gave more than enough opportunities to the locals and the neighboring towns to economically sustain their everyday living as well as to divert their livelihood means of fishing and farming to ecotourism activities.
Whale Shark Watching: Response to Threats Despite numerous list of literature stating good ecotourism practices relating to the whale shark watching activities, rampant killing of this migratory species have become alarming thus resulting to passage of international laws for the protection of the whale sharks. International conferences in Australia were also held in response to the disturbing situation of threats to the migratory fishes. During the International Whale Shark Conference in Perth, Australia in May 2005, scientific experts and representatives from non-government organizations, inter-governmental organizations, and the tourism industry from 23 countries agreed that ecotourism, when appropriate, is the obvious answer to reverse the effects of extractive uses of this magnificent creature. Whale shark ecotourism has flourished in many parts of the world, including Mexico, Belize, and the Seychelles, as a sustainable and equitable community-based venture. It is a multi-million dollar industry, and has huge potential for further sustainable development. In Ningaloo, Australia alone, the estimated whale shark tourism revenues for a two-month season in 2004 amounted to Aus$12 million (US$7.8 million). These facts are according to the community-based ecotourism activities studies of the World Wide fund for Nature. In Belize, the estimated value of a six-week whale shark tourism window was US$3.7 million nationally, and US$1.35 million for the Gladden Spit Marine Reserve in 2002. Given these figures, the value of one live whale shark was estimated at US$34,906 annually. Assuming conservatively that the lifespan of a whale shark is 60 years, an individual could be 6
worth over US$2 million in tourism value in its lifetime. So far, 106 individuals have been photo-identified, and many of them roam the Belize Barrier Reef, returning yearly to feed. However, as the protection of whale sharks are being propagated around the world, a rampant situation of whale shark killings has become a threat to the growing ecotourism industry in Donsol. As a response to this threatening situation, a project to set up a management system was proposed in Donsol, with the municipal government, the Donsol Municipal Tourism Council, and WWF-Philippines as proponents. In June 1998, the sixmonth grant from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to implement the Butanding Ecotourism Development Project was approved. Management planning, establishment of the visitor management system and whale shark interaction protocols, capacity-building for local guides for tour services, and the production of environmental education materials for the nationwide campaign on whale shark protection were carried out.
Objectives of the Study: The purpose of this case study is to assess the on-going activities and future plans of development of Donsol, Sorsogon in line with their main ecotourism activity- the whale shark interaction. This study aims to assess the positive and negative effects of ill-planned tourism activities to the community development and on how to mitigate environment degradation in response to climate change. Each assessment will be based on existing studies on the ecotourism activities and on how each activity is directly related to the development of Municipality of Donsol, Sorsogon. Furthermore, it is aimed to assess impacts of development on the locality and how ecotourism is aimed to become a tool for conservation towards sustainable development. Its objective is to look on the aspect of sustainable development that will incorporate environmental, experiential, sociocultural, and economic dimensions of every step of development in the municipality.
Ecotourism and Carrying Capacity: Definition According to The Australian National Ecotourism, Ecotourism is defined as naturebased tourism that involves education and interpretation of the natural environment and is managed to be ecologically sustainable.
On the other hand, The International Ecotourism Society defines Ecotourism as responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the welfare of local people.
Therefore, Ecotourism and sustainability defines minimizing negative environmental and cultural impacts while maximizing positive economic impacts. Such a focus is a means to the end of achieving sustainability. Tourism Sustainability is postulated to result from a positive overall balance in environmental, experiential, sociocultural, and economic impacts 4 (“experiential impact” is used to describe the effect of visitors on each other and “sociocultural impact” is used to describe the effect of visitors on local residents). Thus, tourism activities that generate more positive net benefits would be more sustainable, in general, than tourism activities that generate fewer positive net benefits. 5
The nature component is descriptive or positive in the sense that it simply describes the activity location and associated consumer motivations. The sustainable component is prescriptive or normative in the sense that it reflects what people want the activity to be. An important point is that, as used here, sustainability incorporates environmental, experiential, sociocultural, and economic dimensions.
According to Halpenny (2002), carrying capacity is a measure of the amount of human activity that a site can biophysically sustain without severely changing its ecology.6 It aims to establish the limits of tourism development in a particular towards the general concept of sustainability. 4
M.E.Wood. Ecotourism: Principles, Practices, and Policies.United Nations Environment Programme. UN Publication. 2002. 5 Lindberg, K. et.al. Ecotourism in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues and Outlook. The International Ecotourism Society. 01/1998. 6 Halpenny,E. Marine Ecotourism: Impacts, International Guidelines, and Best Practices Case Studies. The International Ecotourism Society. Burlington VT. 2002. 8
Donsol Tourism Activities To assess the ecotourism activities of Donsol, Sorsogon and its implications on urban development, provided below is the list of annual activities of the municipality. Donsol: Tourism Programs and Activities A. Peak Season7 Butanding Arribada Festival To welcome the return of the Butandings, which usually come in droves during this time of the year, and to officially signal the opening of another high adventure season of Butanding Interaction, the Butanding Arribada Festival is held every first week of March in Donsol town. The peak Butanding Interaction season is March, April and May each year. This means, it is again open season for eager visitors or tourists to go Whale Shark/Butanding watching or, for the more intrepid and adventurous, who want to cavort with these biggest fishes in the world up close, swimming with the awesome, but gentle Butandings of Donsol. A long fluvial procession just at the mouth of the long and winding Donsol River where a large pod of Butandings usually converge at this time of the year highlights the festival. Whale Shark Interaction Whale shark interaction tours provide the local community with an important livelihood and visitors the chance to enjoy the butanding in their natural habitats. Arriving at Donsol, Sorsogon: Once in Donsol, proceed to the Donsol Tourism Office. If you drove in your own vehicle, there is plenty of space to safely park your vehicle there. If you took a public vehicle, make arrangements for your return trip to Legazpi. At the Tourism Office, you will be required to register and attend a brief orientation session prior to heading out to see the Whale Sharks. You will also be required to pay the fee for: boat rental and
Donsol’s Tourist Attractions. http://www.nscb.gov.ph/ru5/overview/profiles/donsol/tourism.htm. 08/31/2009. 9
crew, registration, and snorkeling equipment rental (if needed). The maximum number of registrants per boat is 7 people. After Registration: After a brief orientation period on the rules and guidelines, you are ready to head out to sea on a 12m (40ft) boat. Your group will be accompanied by a BIO (Butanding Interaction Officer) who will serve as your guide while you're out in the water, one spotter, on the look-out for the Butanding, and two crew members to man the boat. Out in the Water: While there are no guarantees of being able to see the Whale Sharks, you can count on it that if you are there in the right time and season, it can literally take only a few minutes after leaving shore before you come across the first Butanding! Generally, you do not need to be out in deep waters in order to interact with the Whale Sharks. Your BIO will point them out and educate you on how to spot them, as well as provide additional information you need to know during the experience. The BIO's are quite knowledgeable and friendly, and are willing to answer your questions. When the BIO feels that the situation is ideal, he will instruct the crew on the boat's approach to the whale shark, and take the lead in getting you ready for the experience. Seeing the Butanding for the first time is an extremely exciting experience. It is very important to keep the safety procedures in mind, and always follow the lead and instructions of your BIO. Duration: The whole experience can last anywhere from 1-4 hours, depending on how long you want to be out in the sea. Season and Timing: Although Butandings are spotted year-round in the waters off Sorsogon, the season starts around November and goes on through May. The peak season is February through April. The best times to go are in the morning, as the waters are clearer and it easier to spot the whale sharks. According to the locals, the whale sharks are also more abundant before noon. On peak season, it is very common for each visitor to see more than a dozen different Butandings.
B. Off-Peak Season8 These are the months from July to December where few or seldom sightings of whale sharks are seen. The rates of tourists that are visiting are of 5% of the usual tourist that drops off to have a vacation in Donsol. In these months, Donsol have some activities to offer like the Firefly Watching, SCUBA Diving, Manta Ray Diving, and Snorkeling. Other tourist attraction sites may also be visited during this season. Firefly Watching Firefly watching at Ogod or Donsol River is a visual and spiritual way to experience nature. Hundreds of these nocturnal insects inhabit the two rivers and provide glow around the mangrove-associated stands along the banks. Firefly watching is becoming an important nature-based tourism activity in Donsol. Only three countries in Asia, including the Philippines, offer this kind of firefly tour. Manta Ray Diving Dive around Tacdogan reef in Ticao Island, Masbate where cartilaginous fishes called manta rays swim in abundance. The reef is about nine (9) hectares and shape like a saddle with depth ranging from 45 feet to 90 feet deep. The Grotto The Grotto Chapel is situated in Barangay San Antonio, Donsol, Sorsogon. It was built on 1976 by Mrs. Lydia Apuyan-Tagle as the fruit of her strong devotion to our Lady of Lourdes. It stands on top of a hill overlooking the pathway of more or less three hundred steps. It is often visited by town folks for public viewing and as pilgrimage site in adoration to our Blessed Mother Mary. It could be reached by land fifteen minutes ride from Donsol town proper. The feast day is celebrated every February 11th of the year.
Donsol’s Tourist Attractions. http://www.nscb.gov.ph/ru5/overview/profiles/donsol/tourism.htm. 08/31/2009. 11
Catundulan Catundulan is Donsol’s landmark where pinnacle of rocks and vast coral formations are found. The water in this area is the deepest part of Donsol coastline where numerous whale sharks could be seen. It is a mountain cliff about 100 meters tall, making it suitable for mountain climbing and gliding. Below the cliff is a small cave from which one can see the white sand beaches and the clear water of the Burias Pass. Tourists can enjoy scuba diving, snorkeling, boating, swimming, leisure fishing and whale shark watching. It is 9 kilometers away from the town proper with a traveling time of not more than 30 minutes. To get there, one can hire a motorboat or take the passenger boat plying pobalcion-coastal barangays route. Tuba Falls The waterfall is about 15 meters high cascading down into a deep blue lagoon about 20 meters in diameter. It is complimented by two other smaller waterfalls and lagoons. During summer, especially during Holy Week, residents from the neighboring barangays visit the place to beat the summer heat and to search out for an amulet. The place is a semiforested area covered with coconut trees, big trees, ferns and vines. It is also a source of fish, fresh water crabs and shells, shrimps or “gangawan”, lizards, and frogs or “kabakab’. To get there, one has take a passenger motorboat to Barangay Vinisitahan or Sibago, and thence a trail walk of at least 7 kilometers for two hours. No infrastructure facilities of whatsoever is in the place. Local residents who wish to visit the place will have to construct a temporary makeshift shelter for their stay. The Astilleros Site It is located at Barangay Dancalan, Donsol, Sorsogon, about 2.5 kilometers away from the town proper. It is believed to be a shipyard way back in 1894 because of the giant anchor discovered by the inhabitants of the said barangay. In 1896, Don Sabas Milleza, popularly known as “Capitan Sabas”, an enterprising rich trader and industrialist from Iloilo, established the shipyard. The enterprise was credited with the building of small galleons of the Spanish inter-island trade and also two big galleons used in the Manila-Acapulco Trade. Recently, a combined team from the National Museum and the Sorsogon Provincial Tourism Council conducted archeological excavation on the site and found different cultural artifacts. It was proposed that a cultural museum be erected in the Astillero Site. 12
Tankulan Mangrove Ecopark A manmade mangrove plantation which cultures different marine species such as mollusks, crabs, etc.
C. Daily Activity9 When it’s peak season of the sighting of whale sharks, the usual activity is whale hunting wherein they bring their snorkeling equipments and ride to the bangkas or commonly known as bamboo boats which they navigate 2 kilometers off the shores of Burias Pass and wait till a giant silhouette pass by under the boats. When they find the whale shark, tourist splashes into the water and dive to the shallows where they can see clearly the gentle giants of Donsol. The schedule of sightings of the whale shark starts off at 6:30am early morning to 3:00pm in the afternoon. After the thrilling adventure from the whale shark, a good rest and relaxing treatment from the hotel accommodations. Tourist will be served with specialty native foods and crave to the luscious delicacies famous in Donsol. Starting from 6pm until daybreak, it is off to the dark parts of Donsol for firefly atching is best to find at night. Be amazed with the beautiful glowing firefly pack in swarms flying over the mangrove trees while they glow like Christmas lights on the trees.
Donsol’s Tourist Attractions. http://www.nscb.gov.ph/ru5/overview/profiles/donsol/tourism.htm. 08/31/2009. 13
Establishment of Carrying Capacity Halpenny (2002) provided a set of criteria on how to estimate the carrying capacity of a site and establish limits for environmental change is listed below: Inventory environment including wildlife, geological and water resources, cultural monuments, etc. and categorize (e.g. fragile/resilient; dry/waterlogged; habitat/non-habitat). Maintain an inventory of all resources used and the potential impact that the planned uses could potentially have. The resource should be defined in small units (e.g. a patch of rare plants, a bird rookery, a temple). Experts such as scientists and planners are important in determining what negative impacts are possible and what it takes to mitigate those impacts. Identify all cultural and natural resources appropriate for ecotourism use/visitation. Also identify other ecotourism components (e.g. restaurants; mooring buoys). Note the location of both ecological and tourism resources and consider this in planning/estimating ecotourists’ activities at the site (e.g. an ecotourist may snorkel at the coral reef and then walk through the coastal dunes to eat lunch at the ecolodge’s restaurant). Evaluate available water and power resources that the site can yield to determine the limit of sustainable ecotourism use (e.g. quality and flow rate of underground water; hours of direct sunlight; potential rainwater yield). Identify the specific kinds and levels of use (e.g. daily hiking for groups of 15 visitors to the same site, etc.) Identify level of service proposed (e.g. will the operator provide a temporary camp vs. an ecolodge). Estimate the maximum number of visitors using the site at any one time. Estimate effect of climatic conditions on different parts of the site and therefore on sustainable numbers of visitors, use and impact (e.g. effect of recurrent high rainfall and cold winds). Evaluate the extent of buildings, landscaping and equipment – including extent and impact of construction, infrastructure and waste. 14
Based on the given criteria set by the guidelines on estimating the carrying capacity of ecotourism facilities, here is the proponent’s list of status quo assessment that is against the principles of ecotourism as a conservation tool towards sustainable development in the municipality of Donsol, Sorsogon.
Rapid development of accommodation facilities (of various levels) along coastal barangays with improper provisions on setbacks
Poor infrastructure development (roads and bridges)
High density of human settlements in the Poblacion Area
Poor sanitation and waste management
Lack of protective services facilities thus pose threat of terrorism
Docking facilities with no provision of regulation and waste disposal contributes to the environmental degradation
Conversion of agricultural lands to tourism related use (commercial, support industries such as souvenir manufacturing)
Sporadic development on road networks brought by linear development
Receding coastline resulted by climate change and human intervention
Poor waste management on coastal barangays
No provision of disaster risk related facilties (such as open spaces, mitigation center)
Urban fabric with no distinct point affecting site permeability and legibility
Less provision of communal spaces and facilities such as parks and public recreation center
Donsol: Ecotourism as Conservation Tool Towards Sustainable Development Donsol, Sorsogon has been into the Whale Shark Watching Activity for more than thirteen years, and such industry brought Donsol into economic prosperity. It has resulted to various alternative livelihood sources to the villagers and has produced various annual activities and program for the entire municipality. In view of ecotourism as a conservation tool towards sustainable development, Donsol community stakeholders played a vital role in the development of ecotourism activities and on furthering tourism value of the site through educational infiltration. Based on their set of annual activities, Donsol has a rotational operation to sustain the tourism sector that resulted to drastic positive effects on economic, social, institutional and environmental aspects. The ability of the community stakeholders to respond to the needs of ecotourism, and the support of the industry to aid the alarming situation of overfishing and environmental degradation allowed the municipality to maintain good practices of ecotourism mainly focusing on the whale shark watching activity. As regulation of the municipal tourism activities, the villagers were able to directly and indirectly educate locals and tourists on how to take care of the environment due to the very evident effects on economic prosperity for the entire municipality. The good transition of responsibilities- from accommodation, smallmedium industries supporting tourism, and other interconnected industries have harmoniously organized a circumventing proportionality of symbiosis- that each and every industry supports one another and reduce the negative impacts of overlapping activity. Thus, this has made Donsol as a good model of ecotourism center in the Philippines, if not in the global perspective.
Donsol Ecotourism and its Urban Development Implications: Current Scenario and Recommendations As Donsol moves forward to the growing ecotourism activities and replicating such kind of model to other towns within the vicinity, a variety of concerns have to be addressed brought by ill-planned development. Donsol’s urban fabric has been observed to develop on the idea of linear development- whereas growing industries have sprouted from the main transportation links 16
within the municipality. It is through the proponent’s observation where developments have occurred primarily on road networks as the municipality transformed from fifth to a third class municipality within a single year of whale shark ecotourism activity. The boosts of economic activities mainly concentrated on the Poblacion area were dispered along the coastal baranggays of the municipality. The sudden occurrence of accommodation facilities on a rapid growth of development seemed to be out of control due to poor legislative measures. On the physical aspect, building regulations and standards on setbacks were not strictly observed thus needing an institutional revamp on the particular issue. The future developments pose a bigger responsibility on the further growing needs of the municipality. Integration of added protective services may address the growing threat of terrorism and crime incidence by opposing militant groups on the area. Though there are insignificant cases of crime incidence in the area, it is better to address the situation on a preventive approach. As site permeability is concerned- the ability of people to access the municipality in respect to proper urban form legibility, there are only only two ways to access the current location of the visitor center from inland towns and cities- either by water or land access. The site can be considered an artery since it is strategically located for easier access from Albay, compared to the current location of the visitor center. Access coming from the sea is also strategic since Roll-on Roll-off point from Visayas and Mindanao can be accessed through the Central Nautical Highway. A proposed DPWH main highway connecting from the southern tip of Albay to connect barangay Tinanogan is a good strategy to reduce the impacts of overdevelopment in the Poblacion area. In line with this, the proponent’s recommendation regarding the location of the visitor center should be relocated due to the overlapping developments on the Poblacion area. This has resulted to various problems of transporation, security, health and sanitation, and posses a bigger threat on environmental degradation. Physical development plays a vital role on the development of urban form within the municipality. Environment support facilities should be integrated on coast lines that will be strengthened through policies or guidelines on accommodation facilities. A provision of a central utilities system may also be provided, to secure environmental protection on the sensitive typology of the municipality. The government intervention on those problems could greatly affect on the sustainable development goals not just of the municipality but also of the region at large. 17
Propulsion of other tourism sites may be a good strategy since whale shark related activities should be strictly monitored due to the ecological sensitivity of the site. Other tourism spots and attractions shown on the Municipal Tourism Map should be explored and be strengthened to redirect human settlements from rising within the barangay boundaries of Poblacion area. Development of open parks and spaces within the municipality could open up opportunities for the small scale to medium scale industries. The predominant coconut souvenir product selling and other authentic Bicol delicacies can also revive the culture of Donsol to be manifested on its daily activities. As the Butanding Arribada Festival is held annually, a better coordination between private and non-government organizations in supporting projects and activities promoting ecotourism could revitalize educational promotion of locals to tourists. A community interaction may be promoted on this scenario resulting to a more cohesive social formation. As the municipality is still predominant of agricultural lands, the maximization of brownfield development should be taken into consideration so as to secure food security and mainstream income for Donsol in case of the absence of tourism influx. However, support facilities are still needed to be realized in majority of the town areas. Water irrigation facilities and improvement of sites and infrastructure is also one way of addressing the issue of drastic conversion of the agricultural industry to tourism. Disaster Risk Management Plan to prepare the municipality in times of unwanted events that should be envisioned to maintain good support on the tourism and livelihood of the municipality. Given the climatic characteristics of a heavy rainfall predominantly hitting the entire Bicol region, addressing such incident may mitigate negative and unprecedented effects of natural calamities on the municipality.
Donsol Comprehensive Land Use Plan. Local Government Unit of Donsol,Sorsogon. 07/17/2009. Community-Based Ecotourism and Coastal Resources Management Project in Donsol, Sorsogon. http://www.wwf.org.ph/about.php?pg=wwd&sub1=00011. 07/17/2009. Serrano, Vinson P. Aquatika: Whale Shark Exploration Center. University of Santo Tomas Undergraduate Thesis. Espana,Manila. 03/2010. M.E.Wood. Ecotourism: Principles, Practices, and Policies.United Nations Environment Programme. UN Publication. 2002. Lindberg, K. et.al. Ecotourism in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues and Outlook. The International Ecotourism Society. 01/1998. Halpenny,E. Marine Ecotourism: Impacts, International Guidelines, and Best Practices Case Studies. The International Ecotourism Society. Burlington VT. 2002. Donsol’s Tourist Attractions. http://www.nscb.gov.ph/ru5/overview/profiles/donsol/tourism.htm. 08/31/2009.