UBC Graduate Research

Network governance towards sustainable tourism : options for the Lower Angat River Basin, Philippines Shih, Hsuan-Ju (Rosa)


Tourism is regarded as one of the largest and fastest growing industries in the world, with visitor arrivals exceeding the one billion mark for the first time in 2012. The impacts of rapid tourism development, particularly in the developing world, are well documented. Since the 1970s, studies began to critically study the negative costs of tourism on the socio-cultural and biophysical environments on which it depends. These criticisms have led to the integration of sustainability approaches in tourism planning and development. In the past decade, there has been growing interest in the study of governance as a key component of sustainable tourism development. This professional project explores the potential implications of collaborative network governance to tourism development in the case study province of Bulacan in Central Luzon, Philippines. Among the tourism research that has emerged in recent decades, collaborative network governance is seen as a means to ameliorate the fragmented nature of tourism development and provide a structure for problem solving through the understanding of common goals and interests towards sustainable tourism. This preliminary study of Bulacan Province is based on a review of network governance typologies and collaborative governance as defined by Ansell and Gash (2008). At the time of research, the findings uncovered various factors that were not discussed as variables in network governance literature. First, the strong influence of politics in the Philippine context affected the existing tourism network, the Provincial Tourism Council (PTC), to be put on hold. Second, the decentralization and devolution process still poses immense pressures and challenges to the Local Government Units (LGUs) in Bulacan Province. This research recognizes the complexity of these factors on tourism governance and provides practical near-term and long-term recommendations. The results indicate that the collaborative network governance model is not realistic for Bulacan Province to pursue, and instead should consider formulating cooperative and coordinative modes of governance on an informal basis. Additionally, the Provincial Cultural and Tourism Office (PCTO), regarded as a leader among tourism stakeholders, should continue their leadership position to engage stakeholders by prioritizing attainable goals and objectives. Lastly, the need for tourism planning highlights the gaps in tourism development in the Philippines. Bulacan Province’s future tourism potential in cultural-heritage tourism and nature-based tourism depends on the coordinated efforts and resource-sharing actions if effective governance is to lead to a sustainable path.

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