THE Asian Development Bank (ADB) said it is planning to support a tourism development project with the Department of Tourism (DoT) for the Palawan resort towns of El Nido and Coron, to prepare these destinations to handle greater visitor numbers over the next decade.

In a statement Wednesday, the ADB said it sees the need for investment in the two “fast-growing destinations” in sustainable urban facilities and marine environment protection due to projections of “higher numbers of tourists visiting the islands over the next decade”.

The DoT-led project is set to launch by the fourth quarter of 2020.

ADB will offer solutions and financing for “vital urban infrastructure and services” including solid waste management, drainage, sanitation and clean drinking water, as well as build local capacity to “protect and conserve healthy oceans and rehabilitate key biodiversity-based tourism sites.”

“This project is critically important for ADB because we share with the Philippine government the goal of seeing local economies thrive on an environmentally sustainable path. Tourism, when managed properly, can be a catalyst for inclusive development that can lift residents of El Nido and Coron out of poverty,” ADB Country Director for the Philippines Kelly Bird said.

ADB will also consider other forms of funding for local businesses and community-based groups to improve the services they offer and maintain tourism benefits for the communities.

“Palawan is known as the country’s ‘last ecological frontier’ and we want to ensure its rich marine ecosystem, particularly in El Nido and Coron, will be protected amid the rapid growth in tourist demand,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.

Representatives from ADB and DoT went to El Nido and Coron in Palawan earlier this month to gather preliminary leads for project design, holding consultations with stakeholders.

The project will be carried out via the DoT’s Transforming Communities Towards Resilient, Inclusive, and Sustainable Tourism Program. — Beatrice M. Laforga