Limit number of tourists, limit their stay
CEBU Vice Governor Agnes Magpale agrees with the move to limit the number of tourists/visitors to destinations with heavy tourism traffic, like Sumilon Island off Oslob town, south of Cebu.
Provincial Tourism Office (PTO) head Joselito Costas recommended to the local officials of Oslob to limit the number of visitors to the island at 522 guests daily from 1,000
“I support this carrying capacity. I hope ang local government unit (LGU) will also understand,” said Magpale, who is also the chairperson of the province’s committee on tourism and heritage.
But Department of Environment and Natural Resources Regional Director Gilbert Gonzales said what Sumilon Island and other tourist destinations really need are proper management of their sites and responsible tourists.
While he lauded the clean-up initiative of the local government of Oslob town, he said this is only a temporary solution to the pollution problem.
“Actually yung clean up, it’s a remedial, parang temporary lang na solution. What is important is to establish proper management of all the waste generated by a city or municipality,” Gonzalez said.
He said LGUs should think and implement long-term solutions to maintain and presevre their tourist sites.
“We really have to manage (our) garbage. Baka pagdating ng araw (it will) end up the same as Manila Bay or other destinations,” he said.
Not only should the number of visitors to the island be limited, so should their stay.
This was the suggestion of Apolonio Baclayon, of the Cebu Provincial Environmental and Natural Resources (PENRO).
“We are now eyeing how to accommodate tourists in the area since according to study, the island has a 522 carrying capacity per day. So kung ako gani pangutan-on, I cannot allow bisan 500 because magdungan na og anha sa isla then mangalibang ug mangihi delikado g’yud siya. So kinahanglan nato limitahan ilang oras,” Baclayon told Cebu Daily News.
( Personally, I would not even allow 500 tourists because if they all go to the island at the same time, and then answer the call of nature, then it will be more risky for the environment.)
He said that he recommended to Oslob Mayor Jose Tumulak Jr. to limit tourist stay to not more than three hours.
Baclayon, who is the chief of the Pollution Control Section of PENRO’s Law Enforcement Division, added that the part of the island which is under the jurisdiction of Oslob only has two comfort rooms so it is highly probably that tourists will urinate in the sea.
“Mas maayo na if limitahan nato ilang pag-stay sa island aron adto nalang sila sa mainland mangihi or malibang,” Baclayon said.
(It is better to limit their stay on the island so they will defecate and urinate at the mainland)
The PTO arrived at the number of 522 persons per day, through interviews and observations they conducted last September.
“In coming up with the figure, we considered the average time per visit and the limiting factors at the sandbar like weather, tide and the presence of the marine sanctuary nearby,” Costas said in the previous interview.
However, he said there is a way to increase the carrying capacity of 522 per day if local officials will build structures like floating buoys as permanent docking sites of boats.
“Carrying capacity can be increased through site hardening, meaning, build structures that minimize impact of humans on the environment,” Costas told Cebu Daily News.
Aside from building structures, he said putting a time limit to about an hour and half for the visitor’s stay on the island would accommodate other guests outside of the number.
Not only in Oslob town, canyoneering activities in Alegria and Badian towns were also recommended to have a carrying capacity of 143 guests per day, Costas said.
Alegria Mayor Verna Magallon said they are strictly imposing a limitation of tourists everyday.
“Only Alegria is observing strictly the carrying capacity,” Magallon said in a text message.
Resorts in Moalboal and Daanbatayan’s Malapascua Island are still determining the appropriate number of daily visitor flow.
“In the light of what is happening now in Boracay importante kaayo ang carrying capacity. But in the long run, mabawi raman na,” said Magpale.
Magpale urged local officials in the province especially in Moalboal to conduct a coastal cleanup in their areas.
“I’d like to suggest Moalboal (for coastal cleanup) because it is a (tourist) destination,” she said.
She also emphasized that it is not necessary to close down tourist areas, unlike in Sumilon Island’s sandbar and diving site which is currently closed for a week-long rehabilitation since Tuesday.
Moalboal Mayor Inocentes Cabaron said they are conducting coastal cleanup at least twice a year, on June and September.
Magpale also urged local officials to put up big tarpaulins to remind visitors to leave only their footprints, not their trash.
Meanwhile, the Hotel, Resorts and Restaurants Association of Cebu (HRRAC) urged their members to cooperate with LGUs and other government agencies that are trying to correct possible environmental violations.
HRRAC president Carlo Suarez said he supported the Lapu-Lapu City government’s move to go after establishments that violate the shoreline easement regulations as well as the city’s policies on sewage discharge.
“HRRAC is working closely with the LGU. Those establishments who violated will have a chance to re-develop and correct their deficiencies,” he said. /With Jose Santino S. Bunachita
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