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The Role Of Gawad Kalinga As A Promotional Tourism Essay

Besides the 7,107 beautiful islands, Philippines has so much to offer, from its pristine white sand beaches, splendid views, abundant greens,diverse populations of flora and fauna, unique natural resources and vibrant culture. To add to it is the warm Filipino hospitality, affordable vacation rates that they provide to tourists, enabling them to travel cheap and enjoy the tourism experience even more.

Ironic as it may seem, this natural beauty is masked by the ugly face of poverty and despair. A majority of the Filipinos have been living in sub-human conditions – in constant struggle to battle deprivation and loss of dignity.

Non-Government Organizations such as Gawad Kalinga provide alternative solutions to the barefaced problem of poverty and despair in the Philippines. Gawad Kalinga (GK) has a vision of a slum-free, squatter-free nation – a country where Filipinos are at peace and are given the dignity that they deserve. Together with its partners, the process of nation building and Filipino empowerment has transformed over 900 communities all over the Philippines.

The Filipino people have the innate culture of giving and sharing, exemplified by the age-old concept of “bayanihan”. This unique Filipino spirit of being a hero to one another can be the desired push for voluntourism in the Philippines. Gawad Kalinga has, in its history of service, contributed to the domestic tourism scene. With community building and community development programs manifested mainly through its infrastructure and community empowerment activities across the nation, and an extensive number of communities which continue to increase, the organization encourages more volunteers to be involved in their efforts. This potentially relates to an increased movement of people across the country which may be associated with an increase in awareness of the destinations to which they are deployed, a potential increase in travel spending, and a prospective ensuring increase in tourism spending.

II. REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE

DOMESTIC TOURISM

Many countries have a rich tradition of domestic travel and holiday which not only predates but exceeds mass international travel. This is particularly the case in Asia where recent economic prosperity and trends in globalization have not merely spurred, but continue to shape traditions in domestic tourism (Singh, 2009). Tourism in the world is dominantly domestic not international (Cooper, Gilbert, Fletcher & Wanhill, 1993). Travel is usually done within one’s own country before one ventures out into travelling to destinations other than the country of residence. Domestic tourism involves residents of a country travelling only within that country but outside their usual environment. The main purpose of visit or travel is predominantly for leisure, business or other purposes (Cruz, 2000).

TOURISM PROMOTION IN THE PHILIPPINES

In the Philippines, the major agencies involved with tourism marketing and promotions are the Department of Tourism and the Tourism Promotions Board (former Philippine Convention and Visitors Corporation). Through the years, tourism agencies have used various slogans to sell the Philippines as a destination. To name a few, in the 1970’s – “Where Asia wears a smile” and “An island to remember”; in the 1980’s – “Fiesta Islands”, “There’s a Fiesta for Everyone” and “Fiesta never ends in the Philippines”; in the 1990’s – “Islands Philippines”, “Our Islands Have It”, “Jeepney Islands” (in Europe), and “Musical Islands Philippines”; in 1999 – “Rediscovery Philippines”; and more recently, in the 2000’s – “WOW Philippines” (Cruz, 2000). The country’s new tourism campaign slogan is “Pilipinas Kay Ganda” under the administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III. The slogan aims to “reinvigorate our country’s tourism campaign and double tourist arrivals within the next three years,” said a Malacanang press statement reads.

Promoting tourist destinations to potential vacationers is a difficult proposition. Most products and services use advertising to entice buyers and compete for the limited time and attention of the media-harried consumers. Likewise, current tourism advertising lacks the resources needed to prolong destination exposure in order to capture awareness and sustain the interest of potential consumers.

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In the domestic tourism scene, the local government units are tasked to promote their own destinations. These LGUs are given the liberty to formulate their own promotional strategies, according to the market niche that they are targeting realizing that different markets have different needs or motivations for travel.

At present, the new administration is allocating budget for new media promotions, which includes launching a new website. This is due to the increasing trend of gathering information thru the World Wide Web.

MOTIVATION FOR TRAVEL

Throughout history, there have been different reasons why travellers set out on journeys or trips. The chief motivations noted in history were – travel for escape, cultural curiosity, spirituality, education, and social status. People go on tours or trips to satisfy a range of needs from excitement and arousal to self-development and personal growth.

The work of Stanley Plog, which is often critically accepted as the major approach to tourist motivation, stressed that travellers could be categorized on psychocentric (nonadventurous, inward-looking) to allocentric (adventurous, outward-looking) scale. In a more recent version of the approach, a second dimension, energy versus lethargy, was added to the psychocentric -allocentric dimension, thus developing a four-part categorization scheme. Nevertheless, the approach is still limited because of its North American bias, and it does not consider the issues of multimotive behaviour, nor does it provide measurement details or consider the dynamic nature of motives in the traveller’s life span (Goeldner & Ritchie, 2006).

Iso-Ahola (1988), in his work “Toward a Social Psychological Theory of Tourism Motivation: A Rejoinder”, argues that tourist and leisure behaviour takes place within a framework of optimal arousal and incongruity. That is, while individuals seek different levels of stimulation, they share the need to avoid either overstimulation (mental and physical exhaustion) or boredom (too little stimulation) (quoted by Goeldner & Ritchie, 2006, p.262).

The travel-needs model articulated by Pearce (1988) and co-workers is more explicitly concerned with tourists and their motives and argues that people have a career in their travel behaviour that reflects a hierarchy of their travel motives. People may start at different levels and are likely to change their levels during their life cycle. They may also be inhibited in their travel by money, health, and other people (quoted by Goeldner & Ritchie, 2006, p. 263).

The grades or levels on the Pearce’s Travel-needs or Career model were likened to a ladder and was built on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The earliest version of the travel-needs ladder retained Maslow’s ideas that lower levels on the ladder have to be satisfied before the individual moves to a higher level. Recent and ongoing revisions of this model place less emphasis on the strict hierarchy of needs and more on the changing patterns of motives. More importantly, the travel-needs ladder approach emphasizes that people have a range of motives for seeking out holiday experiences (Goeldner & Ritchie, 2006).

In the travel-needs model, destinations are seen as settings where vastly different holiday experiences are possible. Thus, traveller’s motives influence what they seek from a destination, and destinations will vary in their capacity to provide a range of holiday experiences (Goeldner & Ritchie, 2006).

Richards and Wilson proposes that “the search for new travel experiences is primarily argued to reflect people’s increasing recognition and reaction to the homogenous nature of traditional tourism products as well as their increasing desire for altruism, self-change and an ability to confirm their identities and provide coherence within an uncertain and fragmented post-modern life” (quoted by McIntosh & Zahra, 2007, p. 542).

VOLUNTOURISM (VOLUNTEER TOURISM)

Volunteer tourism, or voluntourism, is an alternative type of tourism which applies to tourists who, for various reasons, volunteer in an organized way to undertake holidays that might involve aiding or alleviating the material poverty of some groups in society, the restoration of certain environments or research into aspects of society or environment (Wearing, 2001). Voluntourism is seen as utilizing one’s discretionary time and income to go out of the regular sphere of activity to assist others in need (McGehee & Santos, 2005).

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Voluntourism, is an alternative type of tourism which applies to tourists who volunteer in an organized way to undertake holidays that might involve aiding or alleviating the material poverty of some groups in society, the restoration of certain environments or research into aspects of society or environment.

Munt suggests that “volunteer tourism should be seen as an expression of what is recognized as the ‘other’ dimension of postmodern tourism” (quoted by Uriely, Reichel & Ron, 2003, p. 58). It is, by default, mass tourism in its early pre-tourism development stage and can be viewed as a development strategy leading to sustainable development and centering to the convergence of natural resource qualities, locals and the visitor that all benefit from the tourism activity (Wearing, 2001).

Voluntourism activities [volunteer vacations] involve participants paying to join organized projects (Broad, 2003). It is also described as donating one’s time and manpower while on vacation, even if it is just part of their trips (Brown & Morrison, 2003). Mead and Metraux describe volunteer vacations as “giving time and energy for a good cause and paying for the privilege. It can be taken around the corner in one’s home country, or around the world in a far off land. It may involve travel expenses only, or they may cost more than traditional trips” (quoted by Brown & Morrison, 2003, p. 73).

Callanan and Thomas states that “volunteer tourism fosters a reciprocal and mutually beneficial relationship between the host and the guest and is seen as offering an opportunity for sustainable ‘alternative’ travel that is more rewarding and meaningful than other holidays. It focuses on the altruistic and self-development experiences that participants can gain and the assistance that can be delivered to communities in terms of community development, scientific research or ecological/heritage restoration” (quoted by McIntosh & Zahra, 2007, p. 543). With voluntourism, there is an intense rather than a superficial social interaction that occurs. The accounts between hosts and guests that is created are more engaging, genuine, creative and mutually beneficial. The nature of the experiences gained by tourists is more authentic, genuine, and reflexive, of contemporary cultural content and a meaningful impersonal experience (McIntosh & Zahra, 2007).

Cohen, Mittelberg, Uriely and Reichel all agree that “with respect to tourism studies, the term working holidays was attached to individuals who combine volunteer activity with leisure/tourism pursuits while traveling” (quoted by Limjoco & Magtoto, 2006, p. 12). In certain aspects, the concept of a working holiday may be considered as a dubious form of relaxation because initially, tourists expect a vacation to be as effortless as possible. Nonetheless, comprising practically of altruistic aims, its palatable appeal gives it an edge in the tourist market.

VOLUNTOURISM ACTIVITIES

Voluntourism can take place in varied locations such as rainforests and cloudforests, biological reserves and conservation areas. Activities can vary across many areas, such as scientific research (wildlife, land and water), conservation projects, medical assistance, economic and social development (including agriculture, construction and education) and cultural restoration (Wearing, 2001). It may also include opportunities for teaching [conversational English], nurturing at-risk infants and children, renovating and painting community buildings, assisting with health care, and natural resource projects (Brown & Morrison, 2003).

In his book Volunteer Vacations: Short-Term Adventures That Will Benefit You and Others, Bill McMillon categorizes potential volunteer activities into the following groups: “accompaniment and amnesty work; agricultural and farm work; archaeology; community development; environmental protection; environmental research; executive and technical assistance; historical restoration; marine research; medical and dental; museums; outdoor and recreation; public health; railroads; religious organizations; scientific research; social action; state and national parks and forests; trail building and management; and work camps” (quoted by Brown & Morrison, 2003, p. 77).

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VOLUNTOURISTS

Gazley deems that “volunteer vacationers appear to have the same motivations as long-term volunteers but the relative value of various factors is different with self-actualization being very important for short-term volunteers”. He further suggests that “it may lead volunteers to look for opportunities not only for service but for learning and growth in volunteering which may be increasingly focused on education” (quoted by Ellis, 2003, p. 46). The only essential skill required by volunteer organizations is the desire to help others (Brown & Morrison, 2003).

There is usually, however, the opportunity for volunteers to take part in local activities and interact further with the community. Hence, the volunteer tourist contribution is bilateral, in that the most important development that may occur in the volunteer tourist experience is that of a personal nature, that of a greater awareness of self. Volunteer tourists will almost always pay in some way to participate in these activities. Furthermore, the amount is usually more than an average tourist would expect to pay on a ‘normal’ holiday to a similar location (Wearing, 2001).

Bud Philbrook, president and CEO of Global Volunteers, sums up the excitement of doing volunteer work on a vacation, “when someone adds a volunteer dimension to their vacation, they gain a unique perspective of the community they’re re-visiting. They have the opportunity to learn from and about the local people and make genuine friendships in the process. It is an exceptional experience and very often the highlight of any trip…” (quoted by Brown & Morrison, 2003, p. 75).

VOLUNTOURISM MOTIVATION

Wearing states that “in a global society that increasingly finds dogma and marketing used to instill values and exploit social relations, volunteer tourism represents both an opportunity and a means of value-adding in an industry that seems to represent consumer capitalism at its worse” (quoted by Brown & Morrison, 2003, p. 75).

Resource mobilization theory argues that the networks an activist establishes, both within and outside of a particular movement, are vital to its success. Social psychological theories purport that, among other things, a consciousness-raising experience is a necessary precursor to social movement participation (McGehee &Santos, 2005).

The motives afforded by voluntourism would provide an outlet for those seeking unconventional travel experiences to pursue their own benevolent agendas. Furthermore, it can prove to be a far more satisfying experience than those offered by conventional tourism. Volunteer tourism would be a perfect venue wherein the travelers could satisfy their desires for a more in-depth understanding of the people within the tourist destination. It not only would have an impact on the tourists, but also on the locals themselves. Many travelers seek a chance to become immersed in a community or assist with projects when they travel rather than just passing through (Proceedings of “Travel with a Purpose” Symposium, 2000).

MOTIVATIONS TO CONTINUE VOLUNTEERING

Sherr (2003) classified the reasons that volunteers maintain their service through time into five factors. First, good communication within the organization is a very important factor to maintain the volunteer’s work in the long run. Good communication is a flow of quality information from the organization to its volunteers. Information flow consists of, for example, general news within the organization, the organization’s 32 expectations of its volunteers, rules and regulations, recognition, and feedback given to the volunteers. There are a variety of forms of communication, such as face-to-face interactions, newsletters, bulletin boards, and more complicated forms such as public displays of recognition. It is reported that face-to-face conversation is the most effective factor to serve the satisfaction of the volunteers and increase their level of commitment. Providing informal recognition and appreciation early in the volunteer experience can affect the volunteers’ tenure of service at an organization (Stevens, 1991). If the volunteers are satisfied with the quality of the communication, they are likely to stay longer.

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Second, scheduling, work assignment, and work allocation are crucial factors to maintain the volunteers’ efforts. Volunteers tend to be satisfied with work if they can schedule their own volunteer hours and days, especially if the schedule is flexible. In addition, they are apt to continue volunteering if they are assigned to work on tasks that allow them to utilize their personal talent or specific skills.

Next, if the volunteers can see that the outcome of their volunteering efforts really benefit somebody, they have a propensity to remain in the service. This factor will be reinforced if there is a connection, particularly direct contact, between the volunteers and the people benefiting from their services. In other words, if the volunteers feel that their efforts are worthwhile and important, they will be motivated to continue volunteering. On the contrary, if they feel useless or incapable, they tend to terminate their volunteer work sooner (Wharton, 1991).

Fourth, volunteers expect good support from the organization they work for, such as training support and emotional support. Volunteers who participate in training report 33 higher levels of satisfaction than those who do not (Galindo-Kuhn & Guzely, 2001). Organizations offering longer training sessions and a variety of training topics are also likely to have a larger number of volunteers who are satisfied and committed (Cyr & Dowrick, 1991; Paradis & Usui, 1989). Volunteers need emotional support not only from the organization’s paid staff, but also among the volunteers themselves. Volunteers have a propensity to continue their service when they perceive that they are a part of the team and each member is willing to collaborate in problem solving, cooperate on projects, and encourage the volunteer initiative and activity (Cyr & Dowrick, 1991). On the contrary, if they feel like they are being treated without respect, such as being told what to do and what not to do, they will lose their interest and motive for participating in that volunteer effort.

Lastly, a strong sense of group integration is another important factor that keeps the volunteer in service. Group integration refers to the bonds that tie volunteers affectively to one another and the organization. Such relationships are independent of the work; instead, they provide a social aspect of the volunteer experience that is associated with satisfaction and commitment. The study by Field and Johnson (1993) indicated that volunteers are more satisfied when they have contact with other volunteers, not only in the work, but also at social events or casual socializing outside of the workplace, such as having an informal dinner with the paid staff and other volunteers, or being invited to join holiday parties (Sherr, 2008).

VOLUNTOURISM AND SOCIAL AWARENESS

Volunteer tourism presents a unique opportunity for exposure to social inequalities, as well as environmental and political issues, subsequently increasing social awareness, sympathy and/or support (McGehee & Santos, 2005).

McGehee and Santos explored how an increased social awareness through voluntourism can influence subsequent social activism. A voluntourism experience may provide an indirect or informal channel for an exchange of ideas regarding the issues and inequalities that exist. Though the observation of these social issues and inequalities and the exchange of ideas occur in the local community, it can be deemed apparent that the same occurs elsewhere.

It has been proposed that volunteer tourism experiences have the potential to change voluntourists’ perceptions about society (at a global as well as local level). In the study conducted by McGehee and Santos, consciousness-raising occurred prior to, during, and after the volunteer tourism experiences. It has been found out that many volunteer tourism expeditions improve what is called as “global citizenship”.

One of the many interesting topics in the field of tourism research is that of tourism’s potential contribution to global peace and understanding. There are examples from around the globe, of tours that are seeking conflict resolution, greater understanding and even movements for global social justice. However, it remains a matter of some dispute among tourism analysts as to whether tourism can help foster peace and secure a more harmonious world (Higgins-Desbiolles, F., 2003).

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VOLUNTOURISM AND CULTURAL TOURISM

It is unlikely that [other] cultural tourists will gain the same depth of interaction and experience as a volunteer tourist (McIntosh & Zahra, 2007). Admittedly though, this conclusion still requires further empirical validation.

In their paper, McIntosh and Zahra examined the nature of the volunteer experience in the search for alternative and sustainable experiences through cultural tourism, in the case of Australian visitors to a Maori community. The findings of the study showed that the main motivation for undertaking the volunteer project was not primarily related to sightseeing but to volunteering, to ‘work; not just to be tourists’, ‘to give’ and ‘to experience a service project’. It was examined how open and responsive the host community were initially, and throughout the volunteering project, and what impact the volunteers left on the community.

It was found out that the nature of the volunteer tourism experience was mutually beneficial to both the host and the voluntourist. The nature of the experiences gained by the voluntourists were seemingly different from those gained by cultural tourists experiencing the traditional cultural products, as the latter’s experience border on commodified cultural products.

VOLUNTOURISM AND ECOTOURISM

Wearing impresses that “volunteering on nature conservation projects has become increasingly popular in the last two decades” (quoted by Halpenny & Caissie, 2003, p. 25). Non-government organizations and government agencies charged with managing biologically significant and recreation-oriented areas are expanding the use of volunteers in their programs designed to conserve biodiversity, foster healthy environments, and operate recreation and conservation programs.

In a paper by Halpenny and Caissie, they explored the attitudes and values regarding nature, and the perceptions of nature by the volunteers who participated in the Volunteer for Nature program, a Canadian-based conservation volunteer project. A majority of the volunteers stressed the importance of nature and the environment as a context for self-centered activities such as recreation and therapeutic interaction. The importance of nature’s existence value, the satisfaction of knowing that nature exists and is being protected was also apparent. Many of the participants expressed concern and empathy for the wildlife and threatened environments.

Wearing describes volunteer ecotourism as a “bright alternative that promotes host self-determination, local control, sustainability, environmental stewardship and the privileging of local culture and values” (quoted by Gray & Campbell, 2007, p. 466).

III. GAWAD KALINGA

THE POWER OF AUDACIOUS GOALS

1. GK777

Meloto knows the importance of coming up with a compelling vision to inspire people. Thus, he came up with GK777. Launched in 2003, GK777 goal to construct 700,000 homes in 7,000 communities in seven years. The objective of the project is to help the poorest of the poor, regain their trust, build their confidence, make them think and act as a community and to share the joy of a country rising from poverty.”

2. GK2024

A logical extension of GK777 is GK2024, which “seeks to uplift five million Filipinos.The first phase of the journey (from the year 2003 to 2010) aims to achieve “Social Justice,” and is captured in GK777. The goal has been restated as: “raising 700,000 home lots and starting up 7,000 communities by the end of 2010.”

The second phase (from 2011 to 2017) is the stewardship phase called “Social Artistry,” and aims to empower GK communities for self-governance, self-reliance, and self sufficiency through community-based programs for health, education, environment, and productivity. It also aims to build a village culture that honours Filipino values and heritage.

The final phase (from 2018 to 2024) is envisioned as a time of “Social Progress,” and “seeks to achieve scale and sustainability by developing the grassroots economy and expanding the reach and influence of GK to five million families with support from key sectors of society in the Philippines and partners abroad” (Gawad Kalinga, 2009). During this phase, the Filipino will lift himself from poverty by unleashing his potential for productivity and hard work in the right environment.

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According to the Gawad Kalinga web site, “the 21-year journey of Gawad Kalinga represents one generation of Filipinos who will journey from poverty to prosperity, fromneglect to same to honour, from third- world to first world, from second-class to first-class citizen of the world.

1. Companies (private sector)

Gawad Kalinga has successfully propagated the idea that the participation of big business in GK is more than just exercising their corporate social responsibility (CSR). They are also involved in a bigger project that is nation-building. Because of GK’s novel approach of actively engaging their corporate donors in implementing GK programs and activities ‘on the ground’ (rather than simply raising funds), the partnership takes on some special meaning for the.

2. Government (public sector)

In 2002, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo challenged GK to build 1,000 homes with P30 million from her presidential fund. In spite of its lack of experience in building at such a scale back then, GK succeeded in building the houses in 70 sites throughout the country within a year.

President Arroyo’s highly-publicized initiative served as a major boost for GK, which began to attract leaders from both sides of the political fence, including opposition leader Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr., who provided P40 million from his Countryside Development Fund for schools, livelihood centers, sewage and path walks. Support also came from other senators. Hundreds of governors and mayors have since joined the bandwagon.

SERVICE EXPANSION MODEL

For several government agencies, partnership with Gawad Kalinga allows them to fulfill their public-service mandates more effectively. Worth noting are the partnerships of GK with the Department of Agriculture (DA), and the Department of Tourism (DOT).

The partnership between GK and DA took the form of Bayan-Anihan, the food-sufficiency program of Gawad Kalinga. Bayan-Anihan aims to eradicate hunger by empowering families in GK communities to produce their own food.

Under this program, GK families would each be given a 10-square meter lot where they could start a vegetable garden with okra, tomatoes, eggplants, and kangkong for their daily consumption. Launched in 2009, the program seeks to launch 2,500 farms in the next three years to feed at least 500,000 people for life.

Another innovative program is GK Mabuhay, which promotes GK sites as tourist destinations. This is a result of the collaboration between GK and DOT. GK villages have become a cultural attraction in themselves, owing to the fact that they were built with the people working together as members of the community.

Under this program, GK villagers welcome visitors with warmth and hospitality brought about by their renewed sense of hope. Both GK and the DOT call this campaign the “new face of community tourism.” Taking center stage are the Mabuhay Ladies, a group of women residents who were chosen to be tour guides in the GK communities that were opened as travel destinations. The DOT conducted workshops for the Mabuhay Ladies, giving them practical guiding tips and techniques on how to be effective tourist hosts and good communicators.

The concept of community tourism, according to DOT Secretary Ace Durano, is fairly new. This has been a sought-after activity among the more adventurous travelers, who choose not just to travel but to take part in community concerns. “This travel-for-a-cause stance has been supported by the DOT through its other partnerships with socio-civic groups,” Durano said

BUiLDING THE GK BRAND

Contributing to the rapid growth of Gawad Kalinga is the reputation it has built over the years. Gawad Kalinga has succeeded in creating an image that appeals to donors, volunteers, and other stakeholders. For example, GK is fashioned as a nation-building movement. It seeks to build a nation “empowered by people with faith and patriotism” and one that is made up of “caring and sharing communities, dedicated to eradicate poverty and restore human dignity” (GKBI, 2009).

Since it was founded in 1995, Gawad Kalinga has managed to put a unique spin to its programs and activities. Because of this, GK has always looked fresh and dynamic to interested observers. For example, GK was originally known for building “faith communities” because of its values formation programs, and because of its association with the Couples for Christ. When it made inroads in building homes in war-torn Mindanao,

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GK communities were dubbed as “peace zones” where Muslims and Christians work together to address poverty. Recently, GK communities have become “eco-friendly villages” as well because they have begun to integrate environmentally-sound practices in their way of living.

GK villages have likewise been transformed into “tourist spots” that showcase the inherent charm and uniqueness of each place. Aside from the colorful houses and beautifully landscaped surroundings, each GK community offers the warmth, hospitality, and inspiring stories of its residents, who represent the triumph of the Filipino people against poverty and oppression.

IV. CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK

The conceptual framework is presented by Figures 1 and 2, which are the Concept Map and Concept Table respectively.

Figure 1. Concept Map of the Study

GK

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Premise: Tourism promotions play a large role in encouraging people to engage in tourism ventures. The natural beauty or landscape of the destinations, the facilities and services of the tourism supplier, and the organizations – government mandated and non-government mandated, stimulate tourism response.

Domestic tourism is an amalgam of internal and inbound tourism. At present, traditional or conventional tourists dominate the domestic tourism markets



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