When you go on an island hopping tour in El Nido, you will be asked by your booking office or your tour guide to pay an “eco tax” or “eco fee”. Its price is of 200PHP. You will then get a receipt made at your name, valid for 10 days.

Sometimes, tourists complain about this fee, because it feels like an extra payment, often made just before boarding their tour boat. Nonetheless, you must know that this tax doesn’t go to your booking office or tour guide, which have to transfer it the municipality.

What’s the purpose of the ETDF?

Its official name is Eco-Tourism Development Fee (or ETDF) and its purpose is to finance the Eco-Tourism Development Fund. Established in 2008, its main purpose is to fund the environment and tourism-related projects.

In other words, it’s designed to limit the impact of the tourism on the environment and to preserve what makes El Nido such a beautiful place. Nonetheless, it is estimated that the environmental fee brings in 3 million filipino pesos per year, whereas a minimum of 10 million pesos would be required.

This video will give you more informations on the purpose of this tax (and why it’s a good thing to pay it).

How much is this environmental fee?

Price Validity
Non-Palawan Resident 200P/Person 10 days
Non-Palawan Resident 500P/Person More than 10 days
Palawan Resident 100P/Person 10 days
Palawan Student 50P/Person 10 days

For the tourists staying longer than 20 days in El Nido, it may thus be a good idea to pay the 500P tax. In any case, know that this fee is designed to serve a good thing: preserving the nature. ALL tour operators in El Nido must collect it and transfer it to municipality.

More about the Eco-Tourism Development Fee

Above is the transcription of the official text you can find in El Nido municipality:

“Eco-Tourism Development Fee (ETDF)”

“El Nido is a Managed Ressource Protected Area with a total land cover of 92 thousand hectares, surrounded by 45 islands and has 2,645 hectares of mangrove forest. Its eco-system contains 447 species of coral, 888 species of fish, 5 species of marine turtles and 114 species of birds.

According to studies, the government needs at least PHP 10 million a year to effectively protect this natural habitat.

Before some funding agencies from abroad pulled out, they suggested a unified fee system to make the protection program sustainable. Though the Municipal Government already has annual spending for the environmental protection, solid waste management program, development of tourism sites and aid to community-managed marine protected areas, threats to the environment remained.

In 2008, the Eco-Tourism Development Fee (ETDF) Ordinance was finally approved. In this fee system, 50% of the fund goes to environment and tourism related projects, 10% to barangay eco-tourism projects, 10% to the Protected Area Management Board, 10% to the general fund of the Municipal Government and 20% to implementation costs.

ETDF Ordinance requires all visitors to pay Php 200 before they go to any tourist destination within El Nido. This fee will be valid for 10 days. Tourists staying for more then 10 days shall pay Php 500. Palawan residents are required only to pay Php 100 and Palawan students Php 50.

A body called “ETDF Task Force” manages the collection and disbursement of the ETDF. The membres are representatives of people’s organizations, government offices and non-governement organizations. Currently, ETDF Task Force is installing mooring buoys in different dive sites and snorkeling sites.

They are also funding the collection of Crown-of-Thorms, a kind of starfish that feed on coral polyps. There are also regular coastal clean-ups. The barangays are already receiving their share from ETDF Task Force. They use ETDF to fund maintenance of their sanctuaries, rehabilitation of their mangrove forests, protection of their watersheds areas and development of their community-based eco-tourism.

More projects will follow such as the visitor management program and the strengthening of the environmental law enforcement team. You can help ETDF Task Force achieve this by paying your ETDF. Be part of the efforts to make El Nido a paradise that lasts.”