To achieve the projected growth in tourist numbers and expenditures over the next decade, the Central Philippines will have to move to an investment-driven strategy.
Outside of Cebu and Boracay, little investment has taken place in recent years in the Super Region’s tourism sector. The result is that the tourism industry is totally reliant on its natural attractions as the motivation for tourists to visit. But the natural attractions, though unique in many ways, are not sufficiently strong in themselves to attract the numbers required to support a significant tourism sector. This is a primary factor driven strategy and characterized by infrastructure inadequacies, limited investment in product, insufficient accommodation, medium to low quality product and inadequate airlift.
The Central Philippines is not alone in this regard. All destinations, where the core products are nature and culture based but are not considered world class (such as the Galapagos, Egypt, Greece) face this problem. The strategy that many destinations which do not have ‘world class’ nature and cultural attractions have pursued, is to invest heavily in related products - golf, health and wellness, cruise, yachting, marinas, conference and incentives etc. These destinations have seen their tourism sectors prosper and grow.
To move on to the next stage of development require an investment driven strategy, with sustained investment in all aspects of tourism – infrastructures, utilities, new products, destination marketing, human resource development etc.