There is no doubt that the travel and tourism industry plays a very significant role in the economic development of any developing country. Tourism has been a favored economic development strategy for developing nations because of its ability to quickly stimulate income and employment growth, foreign exchange earnings, and government revenues through fees and taxes (UNCTAD, 1998). Tourism not only generates jobs at a higher rate than most other sectors, it is an important source of jobs for new workers and those with minimal skills. The multiplier effect (indirect and induced economic effects) tends to be greater than that of many other sectors (Pantig & Smith, 2005). Tourism has also been recognized as an important sector for creating jobs and livelihood opportunities for local communities in tourist areas. It facilitates infrastructure development, especially in far-flung areas, and contributes to cultural preservation and environmental protection through education and actual visits to places. In fact, the World Tourism Organization estimates that tourism accounts for up to 10% of global gross domestic product, making it the world’s biggest industry and one of the few current viable strategies for economic development (Goodwin, 2004). Indeed, as the Organization of American States (n.d.) notes that “The most important economic feature of activities related to the tourism sector is that they contribute to three high-priority goals of developing countries: the generation of income, employment, and foreign-exchange earnings. In this respect, the tourism sector can play an important role as a driving force of economic development. The impact this industry can have in the different stages of economic development depends on the specific characteristics of each country. Given the complexity of tourism consumption, its economic impact is felt widely in other production sectors, contributing in each case toward achieving the aims of accelerated development.”
The Philippine government considers the travel and tourism industry as one of the sectors that has the potential to boost its economy. This industry can sustain its contributions to the Philippine economy if developed in a sustainable way and properly planned and managed. Indeed, the need for sustainabile tourism development cannot be over-emphasized.
In response to the call for sustainable tourism development, the DOT, with the help of the Philippine Council on Sustainable Development and other entities, conducted a series of technical workshops to update its tourism policy. The proposed tourism policy statement underscored the significance of tourism as ‘a catalyst for sustainable development.’ The updated framework advocates multi-sectoral participation in tourism development by women, cultural minorities, tourists, and big business. Sustainable tourism will be the product of judicious stewardship by the key players in tourism (travel and tourism business and affiliated sectors, politicians, civil society, the academe and technological institutions, host communities, farmers and fisherfolk, indigenous peoples, and visitors). Sustainable tourism development is one that is governed by the primacy of people, the spirit of partnership or consortium, community participation, cultural authenticity and integrity, quality of tourism product or experience, entrepreneurship and productivity, gender sensitivity, and advocacy and leadership (Cruz, 2003).