Critical Role of R&D In Achieving Sustainable Ecotourorism Empahsized During August 10 ADSS
“Research and Development (R&D) is a neglected aspect in eco-tourism in Southeast Asia.” This is a weakness of the ecotourism industry in Southeast Asia (SEA), as pointed-out by Dr. Filiberto A. Pollisco Jr. during his presentation at SEARCA’s Agriculture and Seminar Series (ADSS) on 10 August 2010. Dr. Pollisco, a Program Development Specialist with the ASEAN Center for Biodiversity (ACB) and a specialist in ecotourism, brought to light the current state of ecotourism in SEA during his presentation titled: “Ecotourism in Southeast Asia and the Role of R&D in its Sustainability”. It also featured the different ecotourism spots and activities in SEA.
His lecture cited a survey from the 3rd Annual Report on Tourism and Travel Competitiveness presented in the World Economic Forum in 2008. The survey, which covered 133 countries, revealed that among the ASEAN Member states, only Singapore made it to the top 10. Only two other ASEAN States, Malaysia (32nd) and Thailand (39th,) made it to the first half of the list. Brunei (69th), Indonesia (81st), The Philippines (86th), Vietnam (87th), and Cambodia (88th), quickly lagged behind. Lao PDR and Myanmar were not included in the study.
According to Dr. Pollisco, SEA countries could further improve their ecotourism activities through focused R&D. He stipulated that first world countries and even big businesses utilize R&D tools and methodologies to enhance and expand their ecotourism ventures. Likewise, SEA ecotourism can also benefit from R&D to further develop its attractions, products, and services, as well as solve issues and problems rooting from the lack of information or the appropriate technology. He stressed that R&D can lead to a more sustainable ecotourism by increasing visitor satisfaction and profitability.
Dr. Pollisco mentioned two main problems in the development of a sustainable ecotourism venture: the lack of a proper demand-driven approach to development and failure to integrate into the local tourism supply chain. He stressed that this common pitfalls can be avoided altogether if the right research has been done and the appropriate system were developed.
The presentation also featured hidden wonders that can be found in the Philippines. These are remarkable places that are yet to be developed, but have great potential for ecotourism. Dr. Pollisco said that tourism spots in the Philippines are at par, or even greater compared with the more famous and frequently visited destinations in other countries.
At the end of his lecture, Dr. Pollisco stressed that even though profitability is an objective for almost all ecotourism ventures, it should firstly be seen in the light of biodiversity conservation and not for its own sake.