The Pros and Cons of Siargao Island’s Tourism Influx


When it comes to surfing destinations, Siargao is undoubtedly part of your surf bucket list. Moreover, this teardrop-shaped island southeast of Manila also attracts tourists who aren’t even necessarily go there to surf. It isn’t a surprise that Siargao is also being targeted for infrastructural improvement that can better accommodate the expected rise in number of tourists and investors are pouring in their money in Siargao.

On one hand, developments generally create a positive change. A report in Forbes entitled “Siargao, Philippines: Can Asia’s Newest Resort Destination Develop in A Sustainable Way?” notes while there are currently six direct flights which operate daily (two of which from Manila and four coming Cebu), there will be an increase this year. Additionally, there have been rumors that by 2019, an international airport will be welcoming travelers from all around the globe. In more ways than one, bringing more people into this sleepy island province of Surigao del Norte drastically boosts its tourism, thus creating more job opportunities for its locals. It also means the local government will be busy improving, if not building, roads that are safe for public use, making local attractions even more accessible to visit. All these developments will pump life into its local economy, which will not only make it more competitive, but also and more importantly open to more opportunities that can consider Siargao as a world-class tourist destination.

Siargao’s future local surfers. Photo by Michael Eijansantos

However, it couldn’t be ignored that as more tourists come and go, the very draw that the province is well-loved for is also placed under serious threat: Siargao’s naturally-beautiful beaches. The unfortunately ruined state of Boracay, in many respects, is a cautionary tale many budding beach tourist spots are taking note of—as well as environmentalists who want to look out for Siargao’s best interests. The same Forbes article cites that a local NGO named Siargao Environmental Awareness (SEA) Movement has been formed, whose main aim is to advocate marine conservation. Comprised of surfers, artists, writers, entrepreneurs, journalists, and local government officials, the SEA movement also wants to empower the local community through creating sustainable jobs for the community. The movement is pushing for concrete and significant developments in various areas that include waste management systems, good medical facilities, affordable quality education, typhoon-proof housing, clean water, and a tourism plans that offer competitive pay.

READ: SEA Movement: How a Local Environmental Group will Help Educate the People of Siargao Island about Preserving the Environment

The effect. More trash in the sea. Photo by Michael Eijansantos

Last year, the Philippine government has successfully launched an eco-friendly septic tank system called The Eco-sep, a technology funded by the DOST – Philippine Council for Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD) which aims to install a sustainable and eco-friendly septic water management system in Siargao island which will help resolve the future wastewater contamination woes of the province. This initiative will not only help provide clean water to both locals and tourists of the island, but will contribute to keeping its beaches unspoiled. Hopefully we will some positive effect on this project.

Photo from SEA Movement. Like SEA Movement on Facebook,

It’s undeniable that there are two sides of the coin when it comes to bettering infrastructure in such a picturesque tourist site as Siargao. We can only hope that the structural changes implemented are for a brighter future.



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