MANILA, Philippines – Top tourist destination El Nido in Palawan will not be closed to tourists despite decision to extend rehabilitation works in the island.
The rehabilitation program is managed by an interagency task force composed of the Departments of Environment and Natural Resources, the Interior and Local Government and Tourism.
On August 4 a 20-day inspection and investigation will commence to determine the owners and which establishments are non-compliant to the environmental law and hold no necessary permits.
Those who fail government auditing will be ordered closed.
DILG Secretary Eduardo Año noted however, that it would be impossible to demolish all structures established within the 20-meter easement zone.
“What we want to promote are the islands of El Nido,” Año said.
“Doon dapat pumunta ang mga tourist doon sa sentro (Tourists should be led to the city center). It’s more on commercial ang lodging, accommodation for the tourist,” he added.
Meanwhile, several areas in Bacuit Bay were declared ‘no swimming zone’ due to contaminated water and because the structures there were already by the beach.
These areas are the Corong-Corong Outfall, El Nido Estero Outfall, Masagana Outfall anf Cabugao Outfall.
“Ang Corong-Corong Outfall, ang fecal coliform is now at 99,315. Ang normal is 100, (Corong-Corong Outfall’s fecal coliform (level) is now at 99,315. The normal level is (only) 100,)” noted Tourism Secretary Bernadet Romolu-Puyat.
“Maiintindihan naman nila siguro kung bakit bawal mag swimming, (They would understand why swimming is banned),” she added.
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu stressed that this effort of the government is a way to protect the area and so as not to worsen pollution problems in the island such as what happened in Boracay.
“We will continue to stop this because we cannot allow na mag-deteriorate ang El Nido (to deteriorate) into another Boracay,” Cimatu said.
According to DOT, there are about 200,000 tourists that visit El Nido every year. – with reports from Rey Pelayo
Tourism industry stakeholders agreed to help boost domestic travel by offering discounted airfare and hotel rates following a meeting with President Duterte.
“Come with me and be my travel companion. I’ll be traveling around the Philippines. Pasyal tayo dito sa atin. Unahin natin ‘yung atin. Mabuhay ang Pilipino. Mabuhay ang turismo ng Pilipinas,” Duterte said on his video message.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)
The House of Representatives is confident that Philippine tourism will recover from the COVID-19 threat.
Tourism vice chair and 1st District, Bohol Rep. Edgar Chatto said that the tourism sector has remained resilient even during disasters.
“We have been very resilient in the tourism sector even if we are threatened by disasters or threats like this. The tendency of the industry is really to rebound. It grows back. After this crisis, we will be able to bounce back,” he said.
The Philippine Tour Operators Association (Philtoa) previously estimated that the tourism industry has lost at least P10 billion so far since the travel ban due to COVID-19. About 50 percent of reservations in Boracay, Cebu and Palawan have already been canceled.
Meanwhile, the Department of Tourism reassured the public that efforts are being undertaken by the Department to soften the impact.
“The DOT and the private tourism sector, represented by the major airlines, the Tourism Congress of the Philippines, and the Philippine Hotel Owners Association, met with President Rodrigo Duterte to discuss their plans to roll-out more value-added packages, discounted accommodation rates, and marked-down prices for domestic flights,” according to the House’s statement.—AAC
The House of Representatives will have a joint hearing on the impact of the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 on Philippine tourism and travel industry.
The House Committee on Economic Affairs and the House Committee on Tourism will have a joint hearing on Wednesday (February 12) to get the views and perspectives of government officials and tourism stakeholders from the private sector on the issue.
According to Philippine Tour Operators Association (Philtoa) President Cesar Cruz about 50 percent of reservations in Boracay, Cebu and Palawan have been canceled as a result of the imposition of travel ban to and from China.
Philtoa estimates that the tourism industry has lost at least P10 billion so far.
Meanwhile, the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) had a preliminary estimate that the economy might lose up to 0.7 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or about P133 billion if the virus continues to spread.
House Speaker Alan Cayetano earlier expressed the need to ensure that tourism growth will not be derailed as a result of the travel restrictions amid the COVID-19 threat.—AAC
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