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Jessa Salvador and Unice Roa, from Palawan State University, conduct a household interview with a resident of Barangay Bueno Suerte, El Nido. Philippines. (Picture: T. Gilliland)

Generating economic insights into local economies


The first model to pair bio-economics with a Local Economy-Wide Impact Evaluation model (Bio-LEWIE model) is being developed by CCRES at El Nido, Palawan, Philippines.

Led by Professor Jim Sanchirico and Mr Ted Gilliland at the University of California, Davis, the work seeks to understand and respond to the economics of tourism and fishing in the municipality.

This work aims to assess:

  1. Tourists' willingness to pay for improvements in coastal resources
  2. How growth in tourism will affect (a) different sectors and households of the El Nido economy, and (b) fishing pressure in the El Nido fishery
  3. How fishermen allocate their time and effort, and how these allocations will respond to marine conservation interventions in the fishery (e.g. the creation of a Marine Protected Area)

These questions are fundamental to the objectives of CCRES. Considering the importance of tourism to El Nido, mapping the benefits of coastal resources to business opportunities requires an understanding of how tourist expenditures will respond to changes in the quality of coastal resources. Part of the data collection effort was to survey tourists about their expenditures and how these might change if there were a change to coastal resources (i.e., contingent valuation surveys). These results will be valuable for assessing the viability of different business opportunities considered in business development activities.

Considering the flexibility of the Bio-LEWIE modelling tool, it can also be used to estimate the impacts of other changes to the ecological and economic systems of El Nido.  One of the most valuable aspects of the Bio-LEWIE is the ability to test how the labour force will respond to changes in the economy. For example, if tourism grows, the Bio-LEWIE can predict how this will affect the pressure on coastal resources such as fishing. This ability to predict quantitatively the effect of changes in business activities can help inform the choice of development activities.

Ted Gilliland, a CCRES PhD scholar from the University of California, Davis, is building the bio-economic model to answer these questions. He and one of our Philippine partners, the Palawan State University (PSU), recently completed nine weeks of fieldwork in El Nido, where they gathered household, tourist, and business information to input into the model.

Approximately 460 households, 275 businesses and 433 tourists were sampled randomly to generate a snapshot of the El Nido economy. The surveys focused particular attention on tourism-related activities (including tourists’ expenditures) and fishing-related activities, as these are two primary livelihoods for the El Nido community.

The tourist survey involved visitors from Germany, China, Japan, the United States, the Philippines and a variety of other countries.

These data are being processed in order to use them to test an economic model of the El Nido economy that can be used to understand the impact of different policy scenarios at El Nido.

For more details, contact:

Prof. James N. Sanchirico
Department of Environmental Science and Policy
University of California, Davis
Tel: +1 530-754-9883
jsanchirico@ucdavis.edu