In response to the growing needs of environmental protection, resource rehabilitation and tourism development in El Nido, the Local Government Unit [LGU], under the leadership of Mayor Leonor D. Corral, implemented the Eco-Tourism Development Fee [ETDF] ordinance on November 27, 2009. In this fee system, each tourist pays an amount of Php 200. Palawan residents outside El Nido pay a discounted amount of Php 100 [Php 50 for Palaweno students]. Tickets issued upon payment will serve as access to all tourism sites within El Nido for a period of 10 days.

This Eco-Tourism Development Fee ordinance, authored by Councilors Nieves Rosento and Rico Fernandez, was passed by the Municipal Council and was approved by the mayor in 2008. The ordinance stated that 50% of the fund will go to environmental protection, resource rehabilitation, solid waste management and tourism development. 10% of it will go the Protected Area Office [PAO] while another 10% will go to the different barangays’ coastal resource management and watershed projects. 20% of it will be used to defray administrative costs such as printing of tickets, salary of ticket inspectors and information materials. The remaining 10% will go LGU’s general fund.

After 12 days of implementation, the Municipal Treasury reported that it has already collected a total of Php 104,400 as of December 2, 2009, 2:15PM. Php 67,800 [65%] were collectected by the Municipal Tourism Office, Php 18,000 [17%] by Artcafe, Php 6,800 [6%] by Green View Resort, Php 6,000 [6%] by El Nido Beach Hotel, Php 2,800 [3%] by Islandfront Cottages, Php 2,400 [2%] byFour Seasons Resort and Php 600 [1%] by Alternative Inn. The LGU hopes that more resorts and booking offices would participate in the collection in 2010.

During the Tourism Stakeholders’ Workshop on December 3-4, 2009 at El Nido Foundation’s [ENF] Community Learning Center, resort owners, divers, boatmen and tour guides identified projects to be funded by ETDF in 2010. Regulation of tourism activities was prioritized in the planning process. This regulation includes installation of marker bouys, training of tour guides about ecology and observance of carrying capacity in every tourism sites. Construction of tourism facilities such as comfort rooms and information centers were also discussed. ETDF Task Force, the group tasked to implement the said fee system, presented to the participants a process flow that would ensure transparency in the management of funds. The process includes quarterly report about the status of fund and projects.

ETDF Task Force expects El Nido Environmental Law Enforcement Council [ENELEC], PAO and the barangays to submit project proposals before the year ends. [Arvin L. Acosta, LGU]