Oslob wants Tanawan whale watching reclassified to ‘urban’ area; abandons plan to limit no. of tourists per day
CEBU CITY, Philippines —The municipality of Oslob is looking into reclassifying the area of Barangay Tanawan, which is known for its whale shark watching activity, into an “urban” area from its current “rural” classification.
Oslob Mayor Jose Tumulak Jr., in an interview at the Capitol on Tuesday, January 28, 2020, said the move was in order to shorten the easement zone for the structures from 20 meters from the shore to just three meters.
Tumulak said that with the current 20-meter easement, even the local government unit (LGU)- owned briefing area for the whale shark watching and the comfort rooms would be considered as illegal structures that encroach the easement designated by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for areas under rural categories such as Barangay Tanawan.
Tumulak said the revision is part of the Comprehensive Land Use Plan that they are now completing.
On Tuesday morning, Tumulak met with Governor Gwendolyn Garcia and Department of Tourism Central Visayas (DOT-7) Regional Director Shalimar Tamano regarding the means to develop Oslob’s tourism.
Tumulak said part of their discussion would be to assess the situation of structures that are now encroaching the present easement.
“Ingon si gov nga paadtoan niya og mga tawo didto aron ma-reassess. Apil ang briefing area ug mga resorts nga covered along the coast ma-apektahan gyud,” Tumulak said.
The mayor said they will be coordinating with the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (Penro) for the ocular visit in Tanawan.
Meanwhile, Tumulak said they will be looking for other means to still implement sustainable tourism even as they will abandon the earlier plan to set a limit on the number of tourists that will be accommodated in the whale shark watching area.
During the time of former vice governor Agnes Magpale, who chaired the province’s Committee on Tourism, the province planned to limit the number of tourists to a maximum of 800 persons per day to observe the carrying capacity of the area.
The number of people to be accommodated was based on the findings of the car-cap study earlier conducted by the Provincial Tourism Office.
As defined by the United World Tourism Organisation (UWTO), carrying capacity refers to: “the maximum number of people that may visit a tourist destination at the same time, without causing destruction of the physical, economic, socio-cultural environment and unacceptable decrease in the quality of the visitors’ satisfaction.”
“Supak si governor ana. Ang iyaha man gud, kita diri sa Cebu nag-[promote] ta nga modaghan ang mga turista unya pag-abot didto ato diay nga limitahan. Usa man ang atong whale shark sa attractions gyud,” said Tumulak.
“We will just look for ways to accommodate the tourists well even if we will not impose a limit,” he added.
At present, up to 2,000 tourists visit the whale watching attraction in Tanawan per day. /rcg
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