The University of Santo Tomas Graduate School – Center for Conservation of Cultural Property and Environment in the Tropics (GS-CCCPET) and the College of Tourism and Hospitality Management (CTHM) presented a 10-year Samar Island Natural Park (SINP) Sustainable Tourism and Strategic Development Plan (STSDP) at Balay Samarnon, Catbalogan City, Province of Samar last August 12, 2022. The project is part of the SINP World Heritage Nomination Bid under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The presentation and turnover ceremony was attended by different institutions and stakeholders of the project, specifically Hon. Sharee Ann T. Tan, Governor of the Province of Samar, Dir. Karina Rosa Santiago-Tiopes, CESO III of the Department of Tourism Region VIII, Mr. Marvin R. Piczon, Provincial Tourism Officer and the Provincial Tourism Office Team, and different municipal tourism officers of the province. Rev. Fr. Roland D. Mactal, O.P., SThD, the CTHM Regent, headed the UST delegation during the presentation and turnover event.
The project is spearheaded by the House of Representatives, the Provincial Governments of Samar, Northern Samar, and Eastern Samar, the Department of Tourism Region VIII, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Protected Areas Management Bureau Region VIII. The cooperating agencies partnered with the University of Santo Tomas Graduate School – Center for Conservation of Cultural Property and Environment in the Tropics and the College of Tourism and Hospitality Management.
The study’s main objective is to conceptualize sustainable tourism and a strategic development plan for SINP using the stakeholders’ participation and perspective and statement of natural heritage significance approaches. It is associated with the preliminary requirements for applications to the UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site. In line with the primary objective, the following are the specific objectives: (1) To determine the current situation of SINP in terms of its environmental, social, economic and infrastructure; and tourism industry settings; (2) To evaluate the context of SINP conservation and tourism development and its associated strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats; (3) To analyze the views and perspectives of the stakeholders on different issues, constraints, and opportunities on the conservation and tourism development of SINP; and (4) To examine the current impacts of tourism development in SINP, specifically on its economic, socio-cultural, and environmental aspects.
As part of the nomination dossier for UNESCO World Natural Heritage, this study provides an in-depth understanding and appreciation of the significance of SINP and contribution to Philippine natural biodiversity and conservation using sustainable tourism. From this study, a long-term SINP sustainable tourism and strategic development plan, specifically for the years 2022 to 2031, is conceptualized, which will serve as a primary guideline on sustainable tourism and conservation policy, program, and project formulation. The plan is also helpful in determining how primary and secondary stakeholders could sustainably contribute to the conceptualization and implementation of policies, programs, and projects.
The project team is headed by the Director of the Graduate School – CCCPET, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Eric B. Zerrudo. The other team members were Ms. Beverly M. Bautista, MA (Cand.) (Project Coordinator, GS-CCCPET), Assoc. Prof. Atty. Dr. Gezzez Giezi G. Granado (Dean, CTHM and Writer/Researcher), Mr. Jame Monren T. Mercado, MACHS (Project Leader and Academic Staff, CTHM), Dr. Avi Ben P. Andalecio (Academic Staff, CTHM and Writer/Researcher), and Ms. Andrea Nicole D. Hernandez and Mr. Al Reile S. dela Torre (CTHM Alumni).