Tony Charters and Associates: Strengthening the Philippines ecotourism industry
The Asia-Pacific region has very strong potential for a diverse range of natural and cultural tourism products and experiences. It was this diversity that initially attracted Tony Charters and Associates (TCA) to the Philippines.
TCA is a tourism consultancy practice specialising in ecotourism, including protected natural environments. The company was established in 2004 and is based in Brisbane.
Building on a 10-year history of visiting the Philippines, in 2014 TCA Principal Tony Charters seized an opportunity to provide consulting services in eco and sustainable tourism. Charters cites developing relationships and linkages in-country as a major reason for his company's success.
'Establishing a long-standing relationship is key. Businesses need to get to know the country, the culture and the people. It's about return visits and continuity of contact,' he says.
TCA worked with a local partner on a number of projects in the Philippines, including developing a tourism investment and marketing strategy; creating an ecotourism strategy for Mindanao; and assessing the potential for ecotourism in selected sites.
According to Charters, the Philippines offers many business opportunities as it looks to diversify its economy and develop tourism in regional areas.
'Tourism is a driver of economic growth for local communities, and also serves to protect important areas of natural beauty, which is a long-term goal for the country,' says Charters.
The benefits of working in ASEAN are not limited to dollars and cents. Charters says his company now has a better understanding of cultural differences, including how to do business in the region.
'It's a two-way street. When visiting other countries, you're learning about that culture and you also see opportunities for introducing new ways of doing things,' he says.
There are many similarities between Australia and the Philippines that Australian companies can take advantage of, according to Charters – the time zone is similar, there is a large Filipino community in Australia, and strong English language skills in the Philippines.
'There are a lot of good reasons to be strengthening the relationship between our two countries,' says Charters.