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Proposed Integrated Community-Based Eco-Tourism Development of Kalaja Karsts Area in General Santos City

Essay by   •  March 7, 2013  •  Research Paper  •  2,277 Words (10 Pages)  •  971 Views

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PROPOSED INTEGRATED COMMUNITY-BASED ECO-TOURISM DEVELOPMENT OF KALAJA KARSTS AREA IN GENERAL SANTOS CITY

I. INTRODUCTION

The Philippines offers diverse tourism activities and destinations for tourists with various inclinations. The competitive advantages of the country are its ambiance and natural attractions that are excellent for rest and recreation. Its tropical climate is perfect for outdoor recreational activities. Being an archipelago, the coastline of the country is spiced up with thousands of natural coves and beaches that offer tourists great satisfaction and relaxation.

Tourism is a pillar of the country's economic development. And General Santos City should take advantage of this opportunity to position itself as a competitive ecotourism destination. General Santos City and the provinces of South Cotabato and Sarangani are blessed with rich resources and with its historical and cultural attractions that offer ample opportunities for varied eco-tourism activities. The pristine environment setting is excellent for sightseeing, beach holidays, marine sports, adventures etc. There is great opportunity for economic development. Eco-tourism can bring more tourists and improve the quality of lives of the rural communities in the city, but it has to be planned and managed to avoid disrupting local cultures and harming the environment. The sustainable development of eco-tourism provides an alternative approach to diversifying the economic base of local communities given the right infrastructure and a supportive environment.

II. SITUATIONAL ANALYSIS

South Cotabato Governor Arthur Y. Pingoy, Jr. is initiating an eco-tourism project that would promote the area as eco-tourism destination. The plan seeks to harness an Inter-cooperation alliance among different Local Government Units belonging to South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat provinces. The LGUS that join the alliance include: Surallah, T'boli, Lake Sebu, Norala, Banga and Sto. Nino in South Cotabato; and Isulan, Esperanza, Lambayong, Bagumbayan and Tacurong City in Sultan Kudarat. The LGUS are expected to contribute 27 Million counterparts funding to the project, via contribution in manpower and infrastructure such as site and facilities development. The identified tourist destinations include: Lakes Sebu and its Seven Falls and Zip Line, Lake Holon at the peak of Mt. Parker in T'Boli town, Baras Bird Sanctuary in Tacurong City, Hot and Cold Springs in Esperanza, etc.

As chairman of the alliance, Governor Pingoy said that the project aims to become a major economic drive by addressing poverty and striking a balance between economic development and environment protection. The alliance has received the approval of the Department of Interior and Local Government to start the project with PHP 6.37 Million grant from Canadian International Development Agency. The project is in line with South Cotabato's plan to establish an ecotourism highway, which would start in the General Santos City Airport and Makar Wharf and connect to South Cotabato province and Sultan Kudarat province.

General Santos City is clearly the entry point to this ecotourism highway with its world-class seaport and airport. However, it is not part of the alliance being formed which is called, " The Allah Valley Landscape Development Alliance". It is my belief that the city should take advantage of this opportunity and get actively involved in the alliance so that our own ecotourism sites can be developed and eventually help stimulate economic growth through livelihood activities in the rural communities. One of the attractive ecotourism destinations in General Santos City that has great ecotourism potential is the KALAJA KARSTS AREA.

III. SWOT ANALYSIS

Taking SWOT analysis method, this paper analyzed the advantage, disadvantage, opportunity and challenges of ecotourism development of Kalaja Karsts Area.

Strength

The Kalaja Karsts Area ranked high as the most visited General Santos destinations among students and local tourists. This ecotourism destination is an historical heritage site considering that it was considered the last frontier of the Japanese and the American forces in second world war. One does not have to be a nature lover to be able to enjoy the Kalaja Karsts Area because once here, one will realize that nature is something that's truly wonderful and should be preserved. Aside from picnics and camping, a tour guide awaits at the Kalaja Karsts Area to bring one to the Kalaja Cave and the different waterfalls in the area. This destination is a one stop for those who want to go on a picnic, swim, go trekking or camping. Because of the many options offered by the Kalaja Karsts Area, one will definitely not get bored and the rugged environment is something that is very laid back. Even children can enjoy this tourist destination and it's a good idea to bring them to Kalaja Karsts Area so that they learn to appreciate nature at an early age and feel the need to preserve and protect it as they get older. It has already obtained a number of following particularly, from the students and the mountaineers group coming from Davao City and the National Capital Region.

Weakness

It is very unfortunate that this historical site has been desecrated by treasure hunters who came in droves in search of the mythological Yamashita's treasure, damaging the concrete bunkers and tunnels constructed by the Japanese soldiers. The Kalaja cave was not spared by this onslaught of destruction. The local community and the Local Government Unit of General Santos has not initiated programs that geared towards the protection and preservation of this area which is a great ecotourism destination. The community lacks awareness of the value of the natural treasure much less the importance of protecting and preserving the area. Economic activity in the community is very slow, which comprise entirely of farming and trading. The indigenous people in the area need to be appraised of the value of this local treasure and should take part in protection and preservation. And there is apparently lack of a tourism development plan for this area.

Opportunity

The LGU alliance initiated by Governor Pingoy of South Cotabato which is called " The Allah Valley Landscape Development Alliance", should provide impetus to the development of Kalaja Karst as prime ecotourism destination.

It is our view that it is an opportune time that the city take advantage of this opportunity and get actively involved in the alliance

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