CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Miss Earth reigning queens were one in saying they supported Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s plan to close Boracay’s beach resorts to visitors following the proliferation of algae in the island’s coastal area and prime tourist destination.
Ms. Earth International 2017 Karen Ibasco believes Boracay has “lost its charm” and may no longer be considered as part of the country’s ecotourism because of the ecological problem that arose from non-compliance of environmental laws mainly on the part of the resort operators.
Ibasco and her court is currently in Misamis Oriental for a four-day tour this week to promote environmental awareness in the communities, especially in the town of Villanueva, which happens to be the hometown of Ms. Philippines Fire Nellza Bautista.
With Ibasco and Bautista in the tour are Ms. Philippines Air Kim de Guzman, Ms. Philippines Water Jessica Marasigan, and Ms. Philippines Eco-tourism Vanessa Mae Castillo.
During their visit, the Ms. Earth beauties participated in activities such as tree planting and in engaging the youth in environmental issues.
In his speech last week, Duterte described Boracay in Malay town, Aklan province, as a “cesspool” after he was informed that many of the establishments operating in the island have not complied with the Clean Water Act which requires businesses to dispose septic waste through a treatment facility.
In a statement, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said only 50 to 60 percent of establishments in Boracay are abiding with the Clean Water Act.
Based on the data from the Malay municipal tourism office, tourist arrivals grew from 1.560 million in 2015 to 1.725 million in 2016, or an increase of 10.6 percent.
Another data from the Aklan provincial tourism office indicates that tourist arrivals surged to 1.7 million last year, or 14 percent higher than the previous year.
The compliance of environmental laws and regulations, Ibasco said, is essential to ensure of a sustainable ecotourism program.
“It is very important for us to take up a balance of the business and of the economy and the environment this time, not just for businesses,” Ibasco told reports in a press conference upon their arrival in Cagayan de Oro on Monday.
The beauty queen lamented that Boracay’s environment is on the verge of degradation as there were laws that were violated.
Castillo said that people must be mindful of the impact they create on the environment and the country’s various ecotourism sites.
She said that the visit to ecotourism areas in her hometown in Loboc, Bohol is highly regulated as these are only opened five days a week, dedicating two days for upkeep and maintenance.
Before going to the ecotourism sites, Castillo said they orient the guests first on the rules, on what is allowed and what is not.
This, she said, is a good start so that people can help preserve their town’s tourist destinations. “We should learn to protect them and love our environment.”
Marasigan said, “If we take care of our environment and protect them, I think that would show our people that closing down some of our ecotourism location may not so bad of an idea just to help the environment.” (davaotoday.com)