Formalization of Urban Poor Vendors and their Contribution to Tourism Development in Manila, Philippines



The growth of tourism and tourism development affects the urban poor both positively and negatively. Positively, they have more opportunities to find jobs in the tourism sector or increase their income when their jobs are related to tourism. They can also be the beneficiaries of pro-poor tourism projects. Negatively, they are viewed as an obstacle to tourism development where clean and modern images are sought. This study looks at park vendors (a type of urban poor) in Rizal Park, Manila, Philippines. This group is unique because it is not treated as a hindrance to tourism development and the vendors are considered as the beneficiaries of pro-poor tourism projects. They are active contributors to tourism development. When a government agency formalized their businesses, vendors' safety and pride increased. This study provides a case in which a shift from the informal sector to the formal sector contributed to the increased welfare of the urban poor. The shift was possible because of a national tourism drive generating favorable conditions, and the vendors' struggle to obtain the right to work in the park. In this paper, I discuss how the vendors achieved a legal status and show current conditions of their work and their relationship with a government agency after obtaining the right. Data for this study were collected between 2005 and 2008.