Friday, July 3, 2009

Price discrimination to preserve pristine environments and diving in the Batanes

One thing I've noticed about the developing world is that the public doesn't price discriminate enough.

In the Batanes, the airport terminal fee was 20 pesos (about 40 cents) and the environmental preservation fee was 15 pesos (or about 30 cents). Those were the only tourism fees collected by the Batanes, which is a miraculous landscape that absolutely deserve to be preserved.

I had been diving with with Chico Domingo, who is not only the dive instructor, but also the primary tour guide on the island and the director of environmental affairs on the island.

I suggested he price discriminate and raise the fee for non-island residents to at least 200 pesos ($4). That still seems small, given the trash and other environmental harm brought by any tourist (even a responsible eco-tourist). Developing world marine and wildlife sanctuaries are justified in maximizing their revenue to preserve these important habitats.

By the way, diving in the Batanes is great.  Chico is an excellent guide, and there are a lot interesting rock and coral foundations.  Chico took us through some of the caves at the end of our last dive and that was pretty neat.  I saw a giant blue/gray sea snake, a couple giant lobsters, some giant clams at least a meter by a meter in size, a moray eel with a cleaner shrimp in its mouth, two huge manta rays and a pufferfish.  It was also very reasonable in price, substantially less than other dives I've done.  Chico also caught me a gorgeous red snapper with purple dots that turned into a delicious sinigang na isda.

I'll post some pictures of the landscapes shortly as well.

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