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Akuh promotes inclusivity, sustainability, and culture appreciation in the Philippine tourism industry through providing a data map particular to the location of the user, allowing space for discussion between locals and tourists, and offering a tourist guide booking system.

Problem Statement

Despite the growing tourism with 59.34% foreign visitors according to the National Tourism Agency in 2019 (Arnaldo, 2020) and the beautiful destinations in the Philippines, the industry is poorly supported by the government. There is a lack of representation and inclusivity among the local population, which contributes to poor sustainable tourism development, transformation and deterioration of cultural heritage, increasing inequality, and lack of employment opportunities as foreign private investments have increased the liberalization of the Foreign Investment Act, allowing 100% foreign equity.

Solution and Use Case

Akuh aims to promote local representation at a community level in the tourism industry. This provides locals employment opportunities and roles in governance, especially in tourism development of their own hometowns. In partnership with Local Government Units (LGUs), the locals are recognized and supported by providing training workshops with curriculums on tourism-related policies and programs, and a platform as stakeholders to participate in the co-management for tourism development planning and implementation.

It uses GNSS technology to offer accurate location identification of both users and tourists spots and activities. With the use of user preferences or the personalized selection feature, the users can personalize their travel experience to be accommodated by the booked tour guide. Additionally, it offers easy interface and self-service features which allows users to connect with locals and their cultural heritage better. In recognition of the deterioration of cultural heritage caused by tourism, it aims to connect and empower the locals in recognizing their role in the tourism development planning of their hometowns.

Use of GNSS

Akuh will make use of the Galileo High Accuracy Service (HAS). With the Precise Point Positioning (PPP) corrections, the product can precisely and accurately pinpoint the location of the user and correctly match the database of tourist destinations and activities accordingly. Its free high-accuracy positioning with dm-level precision enables the product’s local-based services. The performance offered by the HAS through the Galileo signal (E6-B) can improve the GIS application of digitizing and data mapping the destinations and activities to find and experience according to the location of the user. Moreover, it could improve personal communication services between the tourist and local tourist guide.

Specific use of Galileo

The following Galileo differentiators are used for Akuh:

  • Open service free of charge, delivering multiple frequencies: In searching for the accurate and precise location of the receiving device, Akuh can maximize the use of Galileo multiple frequencies, wind band signals, and services without causing damage to its potential revenue. 
  • Global high-accuracy service for free delivering down to 20 cm accuracy: By providing high accuracy corrections, Akuh can be accessible through two dissemination channels of E6-B Signal in Space (SiS) and a terrestrial link, which will result in real-time improved user positioning and locating performances. 
  • Only constellation that provides signal and data authentication: Akuh can have reliable coverage through Galileo’s satellites located in a higher orbit and authentic circulating GNSS information.

Market potential

For the market potential, young adults—millennials and gen Zs—are the main customer base. In particular, those that are interested in sustainable or ecotourism and outdoor activities.

Based on the Annual Tourists Report of the Philippine Statistics Authority, in 2018, there were around 300,00 tourist arrivals in Sorsogon City.  Moreover, for each full trip booking in the Akuh application, the tourist will pay an estimated amount of Php 5, 000; hence there will be Php 1.5 Billion total addressable market.

Innovation factor

The Product or Service

Akuh is an instant tourist guide booking service that promotes local representation in the tourism industry of the Philippines. It makes use of GIS applications to pinpoint the location of the user and accordingly identify tourist destinations and activities nearby showcasing the areas’ rich and diverse cultural heritage, natural attractions, and local specialties. Through the personalized selection feature, users can select their favorite tourist spots and activities that they are interested in visiting and doing within the date and time duration they have provided. They can learn more about each spot and activity with the application’s special feature, the Community Space. It is a space for both tourists and locals to share their photographs, comments, or reviews of the spot or activity. Based on the personalized selection, the user will be matched to a local tourist guide with instant messaging service feature. 

The Process

Akuh mainly relies on partnerships with local government offices to ensure that the tourist guides are trained and certified locals in need of employment. Partnerships with local enterprises, especially those that follow sustainable standards are also central to the service as Akuh aims to empower the people and to promote appreciation of the local culture. The preference of the user is also ensured to be considered and met through the personalized selection feature. 

The Position

Akuh provides an easy self-service product for tourists, especially young people interested in ecotourism and sustainable driven activities, to have a complete travel experience that connects them with the people, culture, traditions, and the place at a deeper level.

Akuh derives from “lakbay buhay” which can be translated to “travel life” in English. It means “magbigay hanapbuhay sa mga tao at muling buhayin ang mga komunidad” or “to provide livelihood to the people and revive the communities”. Akuh also sounds like the Filipino word “ako”, which translates to “me” in English. It emphasizes how tourism should be representative to the people of the region, including their culture, traditions, and heritage. 

It recognizes that tourism is a powerful means to achieve community development and reduce inequalities only if it involves the local population (the stakeholders) in its development. In collaboration with Local Government Units (LGUs), locals can hold a central role in tourism in their locality by acting as tourist guides and active stakeholders. This will provide locals decent employment and participation opportunities in local tourism development. As a result, it can improve sustainable tourism development, strengthen cultural heritage, reduce inequality, and increase economic growth. 

The Paradigm

While there are already existing international websites or applications that offer a similar service, Akuh differs by being a Philippine-based service that ensures connection with the locals and provides local representation. This can be done through the community space and instant booking of local tourist guides. The service also empowers local people through providing them job opportunities and roles in governance and promoting local enterprises.

Technical back-end

The back-end of the web application would be; the server to hold all user and tour guide profile information, security protocols of the server, a verification process that protects the user and tour guide (from scams, sudden cancellation of booked tours, failure to meet user expectation, and overall general safety),  the algorithm that chooses which tour guide to book (depending on the distance from the user and how familiar they are with the areas chosen by the user), and the payment process. 

The server, verification process, and algorithm can be made in-house (i.e. by the programmer) but the security protocols and payment process need to be outsourced.

The GNSS requirements we need would be high accuracy and, preferably but only optional, live visual data of the location. These requirements can be met by installing a high-tech satellite receiver that’s efficient with receiving the radio signals of the satellite in a way that minimizes data losses and noise, and recreates the original signal in a clean manner. If needed, the project is not against enlisting the help of other satellites to produce a more accurate location and to ensure quality service.

The technologies to be used will be- as mentioned- a high-tech satellite receiver, and an algorithm to sort through data received by the satellite receiver and initiate bookings depending on certain factors.

Proof of concept

Video Demonstration (Website interface)

Design of the Product



Vanesa Therese Falconit Garcia

Project Coordinator and Designer

Miriam Environmental Planning Organization (MEP-ORG)

Renee Ann Lagata

Researcher and Marketing

Miriam Environmental Planning Organization (MEP-ORG)

Alexa Kyra Pelagio

Researcher and Marketing

Miriam Environmental Planning Organization (MEP-ORG)

Ma. Laya Soleil Perez 


Miriam Environmental Planning Organization (MEP-ORG)

Mary Kathryn Anne Claro