Government to reduce number of whale shark watchers by half

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram and Rosalie O. Abatayo October 03,2018 - 11:12 PM

From 1,000 tourists watching and swimming with Oslob town’s whale sharks per day, the government wants this number reduced by half in an effort to conserve and protect the town’s top tourists draw.

Realizing the need to protect and conserve the town’s top tourist attraction, the municipality of Oslob and the provincial government are planning to regulate the number of tourists who want to watch and swim with whale sharks, locally known as butanding, in the seas off Oslob town.

This was finalized on Wednesday during the stakeholders’ meeting hosted by the Oslob municipal government and Cebu provincial government.
Cebu Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale, who chairs the Provincial Tourism Council, told Cebu Daily News in a phone interview that a Technical Working Group (TWG) will be formed to assess and iron out the kinks of the proposal before its full-scale implementation.

“And I’m glad that the stakeholders have truly understood the importance of limiting the carrying-capacity of our ecotourism sites as means to protect the environment,” said Magpale.

In a statement sent to reporters, the Capitol said that an average of 1,000 tourists flock every day to Barangay Tan-awan in Oslob town, located 121 kilometers southeast of Cebu City, to get a glimpse and interact with the friendly sea giants.

Magpale added that they are eyeing to reduce the figure by half — or around 500 tourists a day.

She added that another meeting will be held on Monday (October 8) with the participation of the TWG.

Aside from Magpale and Oslob Mayor Jose Tumulak Jr., Department of Tourism in Central Visayas (DOT-7) director Shalimar Tamano and Provincial Tourism Officer (PTO) Joselito Costas also attended yesterday’s meeting.

The Commission on Audit (COA) also found out in their annual audit report for Oslob town in 2017 that whale shark watching activities generated P1.2 million per day.

Earlier this year, the Oslob municipal government also closed portions of Sumilon Island for two weeks to give way for a cleanup drive and rehabilitation of its famous sandbar.

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TAGS: Butanding, Magpale, Oslob, whale-shark watching

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