Tour operators welcome order to suspend canyoneering
Tour operators have welcomed the suspension of canyoneering activities by the Cebu provincial government.
Alice Queblatin, Tourism Congress vice president for travel and tour groups for Visayas, said the suspension is a welcome development in order for the canyoneering operators of The Kanlaob River, which is the canyoneering site that encompasses Barangay Matutinao in Badian town and Barangay Compostela in Alegria town, to put in place safety measures for tourists who avail of their services.
Queblatin admitted that although the suspension of canyoneering activities from June 1 to August 1 will slow down the economic activities in the area, the safety of visitors should also be considered.
She said canyoneering guides should be accredited before they are allowed to operate.
She said the putting up of signages, hiring of watchers, and coverage insurance for visitors must also be taken up.
She said the fees should also be uniform.
Queblatin said that different groups offer various prices ranging from P650 to P2,800 to both local and foreign tourists.
A standard fee per person for the canyoneering would range between P700 to P1,500, which includes tour guides, life jackets, helmets and lunch at the Kawasan Falls in Badian.
Marget Villarica, a destination specialist, said she was happy to hear about the suspension and suggested that canyoneering activities will be handled by an accredited organization that adopt international standard canyoneering practices.
Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III on Tuesday issued an executive order to suspend the canyoneering activity in the towns of Alegria and Badian, southwest Cebu for two months based on the recommendation of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO).
“In its report to the governor, the PDRRMO recommended the “provisional closure” of the canyoneering site on the basis of its findings that it will require the formulation of policies and strict guidelines to ensure the safety of residents and tourists at the site, and the cooperation and close coordination between the local governments of Alegria and Badian on the matter of regulating the canyoneering activities there,” read Davide’s order.
Davide also directed the PDRRMO to formulate, together with the local governments of Alegria and Badian, appropriate guidelines, rules or regulations on the canyoneering activities.
A team from the PDRRMO conducted a risk and safety assessment last May 19 of the Kanlaob River after receiving reports of accidents involving local and foreign tourists.
Meanwhile, Alegria Mayor Verna Magallon said that she has sought the assistance of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) to identify alternative livelihood for the operators and guides.
“By Tuesday (next week), they (PSWDO) will visit us here in Alegria, and we will have further discussions with the barangay and municipal officials,” she said.
In their meeting, Magallon said they will identify the specific alternative livelihood that can be offered to those who will be affected by the stoppage order.
In Alegria alone, Magallon said there are less than 100 residents who will be affected by the stoppage.
She said among their plans during the duration of the suspension is to create an official accreditation process for qualified operators and guides.
“If there are operators who will continue despite the order, then I think that’s already one ground that we won’t accredit them by the time we reopen the canyoneering activities,” Magallon said.
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