The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) recently called the attention of establishments and individuals to practice responsible tourism as it brought to light the state of Boracay Island, Panglao Island in Bohol, and the Puerto Princes Subterranean River – all major tourist destinations in the Philippines. In its latest reports and statements, the government agency said that it has identified a significant number of establishments to be violating environmental laws in the said locations.
Earlier this month, DENR has issued notices to 51 undisclosed establishments in Boracay Island. All of which, according to the agency, have violated the Chapter 5, Section 27 of the Clean Water Act of 2004’s implementing rules. A report by the Philippine Daily Inquirer said that some of these establishments are illegally connected to the drainage system or not at all connected to the sewerage system of Boracay Island. The drainage system of the island is intended only for rainwater and not for draining sewage water.
Aside from Boracay’s sewage problem, authorities and concerned agencies might also want to take a look at the island’s solid waste dilemma. When we were there in October 2017, I was able to fish out a significant number of plastic wrappers and about three nylon ropes, possibly discarded by operators offering paddle boarding and other water activities.
In addition to Boracay Island, DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu also said that the government agency is also looking at cleaning up Panglao Island in Bohol, as well as the Puerto Princesa Underground River in Palawan.
Panglao Island in Central Visayas is a premier tourist destination that prides itself with its pristine beaches and is also famous for scuba-diving, island hopping, dolphin watching, snorkeling, kitesurfing and fishing activities. It is also home to luxury resorts that cater to the taste of upscale travelers.
According to DENR, it is exerting all efforts to mitigate environmental deterioration in Panglao Island, particularly in dive sites that have shown significant damage in corals because of the unregulated number of divers per day.
Meanwhile, the Puerto Princesa Underground River, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the longest navigable subterranean river in the world. The high influx of tourists on a daily basis has contributed to the deterioration of the cave walls and ceilings according to DENR.
While the interiors of the underground river is pitch black, tour operators provide flashlights which aid tourists in marveling at the breathtaking stalactites and stalagmites that took hundreds of years to form.
Tourism is undoubtedly one of the major industries in the Philippines. According to data provided by the Philippine Statistics Authority, the tourism industry has contributed 8.6 percent to the Philippine economy in 2016 as measured by the share of tourism direct gross value added (TDGVA) to total gross domestic product (GDP). The TDGVA amounted to PhP 1,243.5 billion in 2016, higher by 13.7 percent as compared to PhP 1,093.4 billion in 2015.
Tourism expenditure, both from inbound and domestic travelers, also posted significant growth which means that traveling among Filipino and foreign tourists alike continued to grow high.
Many concerned groups have also appealed to travelers, tour operators, and establishments to practice responsible tourism to protect our beloved destinations, and the Philippines as a whole, in order to create a sustainable tourism industry for the generations to come.
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- Philippine Daily Inquirer
- The Bohol Chronicle
- Philippine Statistics Authority