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Tourism Accessibility in Panay Island

  • Sept. 1, 2011, 7:39 a.m.
  • = Responses

Successful tourism is defined by five “A”s, namely, attractions, access, accommodation, amenities and activities. In developing countries where transportation networks are normally disjointed, accessibility is a main challenge. This is mostly true for tourists who do not want to transport themselves. Is there any way to surmount the accessibility challenge?

The answer is yes. Existing accessibility conditions can be used to develop feasible land-based tour packages. Gateways and networks are the key, considering time constraints. The latter is defined operationally in terms of number of stops, volume of hours spent in commuting, and mode of transportation. In an applied research (Fillone 2001) In Panay Island, Philippines, for instance, flexible sets of travel options were identified among 20 tourism sites.

Panay Island in Western Visayas is a prime tourism cluster in the Philippines. Aklan, one of its four provinces, hosts the world-renowned Boracay Island and the annual festivities dubbed as Ati-Atihan. Iloilo has the distinction of having the historic Miag-ao Church, a World Heritage site. Elsewhere in the island are ecological destinations (Antique and Capiz) and a distinct food culture principally based on vegetables and seafood.

An inventory of officially documented tourism in Panay’s four provinces revealed that ecological sites like Boracay Island and Suhot Cave dominated the attractions in the island (57 percent). Historical sites such as Miag-ao Church, Jaro belfry, and Calle Real were next (28 percent). The least proportion was made up of contemporary and cultural sites (15 percent). (See box for top 20 tourism sites as chosen by provincial tourism officers.)

Two samples of the optimal tour packages identified using existing accessibility conditions are shown here (see figure 1 below). The simple model used for configuring the network is flexible enough. It ensures that the shortest time needed to return to the point of origin would not exceed the total tour time.

The developmental value of using this accessibility model is the opportunity of opening up interesting tourism destinations in rural areas. This is a distinct possibility for local governments who intend to promote local economic development from tourism. The economic benefits from the tourism industry, namely, jobs, investments and revenues, are thus dispersed geographically.

Another developmental value from applying the accessibility model is environmental in nature. Traditional tourism sites usually suffer from ecological pressure. The congestion brought about by people and activities accumulates and if left unmanaged often destroys the very attraction a site may offer. Opening up secondary tourism sites will allow a dispersion of environmental pressure from primary tourism centers.

Drawing from the study results, it was recommended that deliberate and systematic efforts be made by the national and local governments to prepare Panay Island for dispersed tourism benefits. In terms of accessibility, considerable distances between tourism sites need to be covered on the western side, notably in Antique. The quality of tourism accommodation facilities must also be upgraded. This will require incentives for actual and potential investors. Two other recommendations include a feasible marketing plan for the island, matched with a sound environmental management plan.

Written by Maria Olivia C. Fillone, EnP

* This article is an abridged version; it was originally published in Danyag, University of the Philippines-Visayas Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences (Vol. VI, No. 2, Dec. 2001).

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