Impacts of Ecotourism Development in El Nido, Palawan (Academic Study)

This study was made back in 2006 and was originally published in hardback copy in January 2007. The published copy can be found in Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila Library in Intramuros, Manila and the National Library of the Philippines in T.M. Kalaw st, Manila Philippines.

Download the complete study here:

Summary of findings

This research was conducted for the purpose of knowing the impacts of Ecotourism Development in El Nido, Palawan as a Protected Area.

The Scope of the study is mainly on the different aspects of Ecotourism and the relationships of each component. The respondents of the study were the local residents, local officials and the tourist of El Nido.

The seven-month period of the study was from June 2006 up to January 2007. Descriptive method was used to utilize the research and various methods of gathering information were chiefly normative survey techniques to gather data from the locals and tourists that served as the vital information for the study.

The interview was also conducted with the key people involved in the conservation and facilitation of El Nido. The observation method was also used to evaluate and experience the ecotourism itself in El Nido.

For gathering secondary data, the library and internet research was used to source information. Data and information from different clippings, documents and other supporting papers were also gathered.

What are the impacts of ecotourism modernization in the town of El Nido, Palawan?

Out of 50 respondents for the locals, 100% are aware that the El Nido is a protected area. The majority of the local respondents are pro-conservation, others are pro modernization, and few answered both.

As for the 50 respondents the tourists, the majority of them are aware that El Nido is a protected area while few are not aware of it. As for their stand whether they are pro modernization or pro-conservation, the majority are pro-conservation.

Read more: 12 Best Tourist Spots and Things to Do in Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Five factors affected by the Ecotourism development:

The five factors affected by ecotourism development are the technical, social, political, environmental, and economic factors were also discussed in the thesis.

Each aspect has a pro and cons with respect to the ecotourism perspective wherein the combination of these aspects depicts the holistic impact of ecotourism in El Nido.

Technical factor discusses the infrastructure and superstructure within El Nido and how it contributes to the ecotourism of the municipality.

Social factor is concerned with the culture and the way of living of the people of El Nido.

Environmental factor discusses the effects of ecotourism development on the biodiversity (marine and terrestrial) of El Nido. 

Political aspect is the presentation of different laws, rules and regulations governing the environmental preservation of El Nido and guides for ecotourism development.

Economic factor discusses the distribution of all the supply in parallel to the demands of the people in El Nido.

Read More: Best Things to Do in El Nido Palawan (Philippines)


Based on the analysis and interpretation of the data and information gathered by the researchers during the stay in El Nido town, conclusions of the study were formulated.

The development of ecotourism in the town of El Nido has had a large impact – both positive and negative. This Ecotourism development has its domino effect whether on the positive or the negative side.


The Ecotourism development is positive in terms of; it provides convenience to the tourists in meeting their needs during the tourists’ stay and accessibility of the town from the different key places.

It is also an advantage for the local people because the development of ecotourism would bring a number of tourists that would generate income as well as jobs for locals in tourism-related establishments.

But as much as the researchers want to look at it on the brighter side, the negative effects of the development cannot hide from the entire positive things that it brings to El Nido.


Based on El Nido’s environmental nature status, natural resources are starting to run down because of the increasing volume of tourists. Locals and tourist are unconsciously harming and exploiting the natural resources to sustain their needs and wants.

Read more: Nido Soup: Delicious Bird’s Nest Soup of Palawan, Philippines

 The high cost of living is the effect of the high demand for the needs and unsustainable supply. Because of the rapid growth of the population in El Nido, prices of basic commodities also heighten.

For that reason, the locals are much affected. Another reason for the high cost of living in El Nido is that it is considered a world-class tourist spot.

Another negative impact is pollution. An increase in the population also increases the waste it produces.

Therefore, since the population is continually increasing, it wouldn’t surprise the researchers that El Nido will not be able to handle waste management in the future.

The last negative impact that the researchers found is the extinction of El Nido’s cultural identity.

Because of tourism, and for the sake of hospitability, the town is adjusting to the tourists, therefore, experiencing cultural diffusion. People who originally inhabits El Nido are called Cuyunin. They have their own language but you will barely hear it from the locals because everyone is adjusting to the tourists.

El Nido is known to be the world’s last frontier but the researchers think that it wouldn’t take long unless the locals, LGU, and NGOs will not work hand in hand for the protection and conservation of their paradise.

There are so many plans for the development and conservation of El Nido but until now, most of them were not implemented successfully. There are so many laws and policies made for the conservation and development of El Nido, but law enforcement is poor.

Read more: Best El Nido Island Hopping Guide and Packages for First Time Visitors


The researchers would like to recommend the implementation and promotion of sustainable development in El Nido, Palawan wherein plans and development will be strictly implemented and are guided by environmental laws. 

Ordinances and policies for environmental conservation must be promulgated rigorously to achieve sustainable development.

Weekly monitoring of the plans and programs in development to maintain El Nido’s pristine ecological condition and at the same time, be a developed eco-tourism spot.

However, specific recommendations are as follows:

1. Relocation of the proposed Ro-Ro ramp from the El Nido town’s pier to open water at the other west coastal side of the municipality wherein there is no need to disturb corals and undergo dredging.

Thus, the major route of the different shipping lines is passing on this side of El Nido’s municipality.

2. Cultural preservation wherein the Local Government Unit of Palawan, particularly the Municipality of the town of El Nido will promote nationalism within the locals. The LGU will lead the preservation of the Cuyunin culture despite of cultural diffusion.

3. Environmental Awareness through the dissemination of information and setting awareness by conducting seminars and including it in the curriculum of primary and secondary education.

Awareness of the people can lead to better protection of their natural assets.

4. Preserving biologically important public lands specifically the terrestrial wherein the Department of Public Works and Highways will not sacrifice the terrestrial life in building roads and highways as part of development.

5. Limitation of tourism activities in order to avoid biological disturbance and over-exploitation of a protected area.

Activities such as excessive use of pump boats used in island hopping have negative impacts on marine life. Therefore, promoting non-disturbing activities on marine life such as kayaking, and mountain trekking would be advisable.

6. Collection of conservation fee upon entering El Nido wherein a toll gate or booth will be built in the boundary of El Nido and Taytay and conservation fee will be collected.

These fees collected will be used for the utilization of the Protected Area thus executing the sustainable development for El Nido.

This academic research was co-authored by Judimowatt de la Rama – Tsagkarakis, Ria Elaine Martin-Loy, Vanna Patricia Cruz – Colorico, Arlene Cacao – Sabado, and Michelle Severino – Koufougianakis.

Feel free to download a copy of our research:


Ryazan Tristram EverythingZany Author Bio

Ryazan Tristram

Travel Writer & Photographer

Ryazan has a Bachelor’s Degree in Tourism and Hotel Management. She also has more than 10 years of work experience gained from working in the hotel and travel sectors in Asia and Europe. Her work has been featured and published on Huffington Post, Reader’s Digest, Discovery Channel, World Travel Guide, MSN, CNBC, GMA, Daily Mail UK, Lonely Planet and many more. She is currently living in the UK as a dual citizen (British – Filipina). Join her in travelling around the UK and beyond with a mission to promote sustainable tourism and share travel guides, travel tips, foodies, history and culture.

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