The national government is serious in its bid for a sustainable tourism industry in the Philippines, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said on Monday as she bared that future rehabilitation efforts are seen in Siargao and Coron.
This as ongoing activities in Manila Bay, Boracay, and two of the latest in Panglao, Bohol and El Nido, Palawan are underway.
“We are rehabilitating Panglao, Bohol and El Nido, and soon in Siargao. We’re actually looking at Coron,” she told reporters at the side of the refreshed tourism campaign relaunch in Manila.
Although this follows the Boracay revamp, Romulo-Puyat said there would be no closure involving the destinations in line for cleanup as well as those currently undergoing rehabilitation.
“We went to Panglao last November and we actually gave them six months to follow the easement law and to follow environmental laws. In six months and they still do not comply then that’s what we’re going to discuss, what the next steps are,” she said.
“We hope that the mayors of Panglao and El Nido start complying. Why wait for the six months to end?” she added.
Last year, Boracay was closed to tourists for a six-month intensive rehabilitation to rid the beach of pollution and to fix its unregulated sewage system that has contributed to the island’s “cesspool” state in the past.
Since then, sustainable tourism has been the battle cry of the Department of Tourism in promoting the country’s destination and in rallying tourism stakeholders to do its part in balancing development and conservation.
In Boracay, the government has already reached the second phase of its rehabilitation which involves the repair of roads leading to the island’s timberland.
“Our next inter-agency task force meeting will be held on February 28 in Boracay so that we can personally see the developments,” Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año said during the press conference.
“We received feedbacks from constituents that there are certain areas wherein they noted some sort of violations. We will look into that and we will make sure that we sustain the gains that we had for the last nine months,” he said.
Meanwhile, on the Manila Bay cleanup, he said he is confident that it could still regain its pristine condition as it was in the 60s.
“This will take time but with the cooperation of everyone, we could restore back Manila Bay into its pristine condition like in the 1960s,” he said.
Romulo-Puyat disclosed that at least five hotels in Metro Manila are in danger of closure should they fail to comply with environmental laws within three months.
Out of 50 establishments the government have inspected in Metro Manila, the Tourism chief said five were written notices of compliance in relation to the clean-up efforts in Manila Bay.
“But it’s best that their names are not mentioned, but of course in three months if they don’t comply their names would be mentioned,” she said.
Within two weeks’ time since the DILG rallied the local government units in Metro Manila, Año bared that more than five million kilograms of waste have already been collected from Manila Bay.
Last month, the national government kicked off the Manila Bay rehabilitation starting in the Manila area. The 192-kilometer harbor spans from Cavite and Metro Manila on the east, Bulacan and Pampanga on the north, and Bataan on the west.
Along with the 5,000 initial volunteers in the capital, more than 1,000 participated in the cleanup in the provinces of Bataan and Cavite. (PNA)