STARTING New Year’s Day, all rafting activities at Kawasan Falls in Badian town, 105 kilometers south of Cebu, are suspended indefinitely.
In Executive Order No. 23, Badian Mayor Carmencita Lumain ordered for the “indefinite suspension of the rafting activities on all levels of the Kawasan Falls.”
Badian Tourism Committee Chairman Mark Andrew Jorolan said that the indefinite suspension was ordered because of a series of complaints against concessionaires for alleged overcharging of their services.
“The most recent was the complaint of a Singaporean national, who was asked to pay P300 per person for water rafting, instead of the approved P350 per raft [which can accommodate 8 to 10 people],” said Jorolan.
He said that the local government of Badian had been consistently warning the rafting operators regarding the complaints of malpractice, specifically in overcharging the guests.
“Beginning April of this year (2017), we gave the P350 per raft rate, but they still followed their charge which was P300 per head,” said Jorolan.
He said that the town government had to take over the rafting operations since the operators, who were given a chance to operate the rafting activities failed to follow the rules.
The suspension of rafting activities however has surprised tour operators.
“We need to understand why because if it really is true that they will suspend rafting activities at Kawasan, (then) for me, there’s no sense in selling Kawasan as a destination anymore,” said Cebu Association of Tour Operations Specialist (CATO) President Alice Queblatin.
“Bamboo rafting is the kind of experience that makes the whole Kawasan experience complete,” Queblatin said in a phone interview on Sunday.
She also said that the suspension of rafting activities had not been communicated to the tour operators yet.
“But if the reason for this suspension is to regulate and discipline the people, who operate at Kawasan, we are for the mayor’s decision,” said Queblatin.
According to Queblatin, they have also received complaints from their tour guides regarding the arbitrary charges of the concessionaires in Kawasan.
Queblatin added that more kiosks in Kawasan had been selling overcharged food and other hidden charges had also been added.
“When we started, rafting was at P300 per raft, now they ask P800 from my guides. I don’t know where the excess P500 will go,” said Queblatin.
“I think it’s about time that the mayor pay a more serious look over the activities at Kawasan, not only the rafting,” said Queblatin.
According to Jorolan, the suspension of the rafting activities will continue until an ordinance will be passed authorizing the local government to manage the rafting activities at Kawasan Falls,
“Starting January, we will be starting to train local guides to facilitate the rafting already. We are just waiting for the ordinance to have a legal basis for everything,” Jorolan said.
Jorolan said that regulating Kawasan activities are very important to sustain the tourism industry considering that it has become the main source of income for the locals.
He added that they will also start to implement a new garbage management technique on January to answer the problem of garbage collection near Kawasan Falls.
Meanwhile, due to the threatening low pressure area, canyoneering activities are also suspended on January 1 and 2 and will resume on January 3.