This project aimed to evaluate the overall condition of selected tourist areas and assess the tourists’ willingness to pay fees for their activities. This will serve as input in designing an effective and efficient fee collection system for sustainable resource management. The following locations in Ilocos Norte were its focus: La Virgen Milagrosa in Badoc, Sand Dunes in Paoay, and Paraiso ni Anton in Pagudpud.
The physical, biological, sociological, and ecological conditions of the area's ecosystem were evaluated through site visits and observations. Also, water sample analyses in a laboratory were done to ensure human safety and sustain water utilization according to its intended purpose in the area. The results were compared with the Water Quality Guidelines and General Effluent Standards of 2016 issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in its Administrative Order 2016-08 (DAO 2016-08). Using the Contingent Valuation Method, the tourists were asked what benefits natural ecosystems provide and how much they are willing to pay for various activities in the areas.
In La Virgen Milagrosa, tourists can enjoy boating, swimming, floating and inland cottage renting, picnicking near the shore, water biking, and photoshoots. The water quality in the area proved to be safe for recreational activities (DAO 2016-08, Marine Class SB). Meanwhile, tourists can have photoshoots, fetch water, rest, or hike in Paraiso ni Anton. Water quality analysis revealed that its water has Escherichia coli (E.coli) ̶ a bacterium that is harmful for human consumption. In Paoay Sand Dunes, tourists can enjoy 4x4 riding and sandboarding, photoshoots, and sightseeing. At present, there is no serious concern in the area. However, oil spills from vehicles can eventually cause groundwater contamination. All the areas offer cultural and spiritual services to the people. The La Virgen Milagrosa church offers a place to pray and worship, Paoay Sand Dunes has been the venue for filming movies and concerts, and the Paraiso ni Anton is believed to have healing water. It was observed that there is a decrease in amenity values because of the negative effects associated with overcrowding, continuous establishment of permanent structures, and increase of produced solid wastes in the areas.
Almost all respondents indicated that La Virgen Milagrosa is beneficial as a source of income. The majority of the respondents in Paoay Sand Dunes considered that the area offers aesthetics. Many respondents indicated that Paraiso ni Anton offers aesthetics and spiritual services. In general, tourists are willing to pay only a minimal amount for environmental fees. In La Virgen Milagrosa, the tourists are willing to pay PhP 10.00 for the entrance fee and PhP 100.00 for tent pitching. However, their willingness to pay for parking fee is only PhP 10.00, which is lower than the existing rate of PhP 20.00. In Paoay Sand Dunes, the tourists are willing to pay PhP 10.00 for the entrance fee and PhP 20.00 for the parking fee. However, they are willing to pay PhP 1,500.00 for a 4x4 vehicle ride, which is lower than the existing rate of PhP 2,500.00. In Paraiso ni Anton, tourists are willing to pay PhP 10.00 as visitor’s fee and PhP 20.00 for parking, which are much lower than the suggested fees from DAO 2016-24. During peak seasons, the following funds can be generated for environmental management: PhP 819,000.00 in La Virgen Milagrosa for charging entrance fees and tent pitching, PhP 554,400.00 in Paoay Sand Dunes for charging entrance and parking fees, and PhP 157,500.00 in Paraiso ni Anton for charging visiting and parking fees.
The Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) of Kalbario-Patapat Natural Park (KPNP) should strictly prohibit the public from consuming water from the Paraiso ni Anton because it is not potable. The concerned LGUs and agencies should assess and evaluate the actual environmental costs involved in managing the areas in partnership with researchers and other technical experts. In La Virgen Milagrosa and Paoay Sand Dunes, they can either adopt or charge higher entrance and tent pitching fees for the former and entrance and parking fees for the latter. The tourists’ willingness to pay various fees in Paraiso ni Anton is much lower than the suggested fees for protected areas, which may be insufficient to cover the rising environmental management and protection costs. Therefore, they should enforce the suggested rates from DAO 2016-24. The concerned LGUs of the different tourist areas should work closely with the locals and environment-regulating bodies/agencies for the sustainable management of tourist areas. The water quality in the areas should be maintained to avoid contamination. Other natural resources must also be maintained to prevent degradation and overexploitation. Cleanliness and orderliness of the areas must be enforced through strategically locating trash bins and posting warning signs (e.g., the water is not potable, no littering).