Date Published:
Dec 27, 2023
Focus Area(s):
DP 2023-35

Boracay Island, Malay, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Philippines. Over the years, its sustained growth as a top tourist destination has been substantially supported by the Island’s informal tourism sector, which is primarily women-dominated. While both men and women provide tourism products and services, differences are observed in their occupational choices and the options made available to them. For this reason, concerns about the sustainability of tourism development vis-à-vis gender inclusivity have been raised. To bridge this gap, this study investigated the involvement of women in the informal tourism of Boracay Island. This study specifically looked into their working conditions, their challenges and issues, and the national policies that govern and regulate their participation in the informal economy. The macro, meso, and micro dimensions of women’s involvement in the informal tourism economy were analyzed using the Women’s Economic Empowerment Framework. To do so, the authors conducted key informant interviews in three phases: first, with members of the local government units (LGUs) of the Municipality of Malay and the Boracay Island; second, with women informal workers serving in the food and beverages, souvenirs, excursions, and services sector in the Boracay Island; finally, with experts in tourism and informal economy at the national level. The study’s findings suggest that informal workers on the Island are organized, recognized, and registered under the LGU.

Despite attempts to facilitate their transition to the formal economies, these women workers were found to prefer to operate under the informal economy for two reasons: first, their educational background forces them to engage in informal work to help provide for their families; second, their personal choice to engage in informal work given the flexible and convenient work arrangements it offers them. For these workers, concerns about their dependence on the seasonality of tourism activities prevailed. Policy recommendations are outlined to provide a  better understanding of women’s involvement in the informal economies in Boracay Island.

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