To validate the results of the Carrying Capacity Models before submission to ERDB, a Focus Group Discussion (FGD) was conducted last Sept. 20-122, 2016 in Region VII, Central Visayas.

The FGD was participated in by the concerned stakeholders (PO Presidents, members and secretaries, tourism officers, APASU, DENR CENRO representatives and MLGU representatives) from the municipality of Sibulan, Negros Oriental and Anda, Bohol. Likewise, a total of 15 participants attended the FGD for the Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park and 26 participants for the Lamanok Island Mystic Tour and Mangrove Tour.

Issues, concerns, and additional inputs to the results of the study were discussed by the respective groups after the presentation. In Balinsasayao, the following issues and concerns were clarified among the participants: a) difference between visitors and tourists, b) co-management of the area, c) motorbike fare, d) waste management, e) peace and order condition, f) water quality of the lake, g) existing farming practices in the 3 neighboring upland areas, h) sharing of fees among the concerned offices, i) available space for the proposed additional structures, j) improvement of the water system, and k) provision of communication facilities.

The main issue raised was the legal identity of the PO managing and handling the ecotourism activities. Political and organizational issues were clearly observed in the area. It was also evident that the organization who managed the ecotourism area needs additional training since there was only one trained tour guide whose absence could hamper the ecotourism activities in the area.

The word “cohesiveness” was clearly emphasized by the BCWERC Center Head and project leader during the FGD for the PO, LGU and PENRO to ensure success of the project in their respective areas. She further stressed the importance of unity for the sustainability of the project. According to her, the PO and concerned stakeholders should have one mission, vision, goal/purpose to be effective and efficient in promoting and protecting their natural resources and likewise maintaining the high level of satisfaction of tourists/visitors. Kristine M. Suyom, BCWERC