He gave assurance that the DENR, together with the Departments of Tourism and of the Interior and Local Government, is ready to go full blast with the rehabilitation of other tourist spots, particularly Palawan’s El Nido and Coron.
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Palawan attractions won’t be closed during rehabilitation
Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) - November 16, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Once the rehabilitation begins, tourist spots in Palawan will not be closed to visitors like what the government did in Boracay Island, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu clarified yesterday.

Establishments with violations, especially those relating to environmental protection, will definitely be shut down, he added.           

He gave assurance that the DENR, together with the Departments of Tourism and of the Interior and Local Government, is ready to go full blast with the rehabilitation of other tourist spots, particularly Palawan’s El Nido and Coron.          

Cimatu, who heads the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force in charge of rehabilitating the world-famous island, promised to “dedicate a large portion of the DENR presence in Palawan” to focus on the rehabilitation of El Nido and Coron.

 “We have to maintain Palawan as the last ecological frontier of the country,” he stressed.           

Aside from Palawan, the task force will also visit Panglao island in Bohol and Siargao in Surigao del Norte next week, the official said.

“Since we have already started in Boracay, let’s continue these rehabilitation efforts for the sake of the Philippines and the Filipino people, so that they can have something to be proud of,” he added.         

He revealed that he has instructed the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau to check the water quality in El Nido. A study on El Nido’s carrying capacity will also be conducted.

Just like in Boracay, Cimatu said the DENR would make sure that all establishments in El Nido will have sewage and wastewater treatment facilities.

Meanwhile, the Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP) is expecting thousands of foreign travelers to visit the country next year as it received positive feedback during the three-day World Travel Market in London. 

TCP president Jose Clemente said they sold the less-visited tourist attractions in the Philippines and the recently opened Boracay, where most foreign travelers showed interest in.

The Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) of the Department of Tourism focused on inviting the “high spend, long stay” tourists to get an optimal experience in the Philippines. 

Clemente lauded the government’s decision to close down only the non-compliant tourism-oriented establishments in El Nido, Palawan and not the whole destination. 

El Nido is often the jump-off point for island getaways and tours.

“We welcome the fact that the government is embarking on this and we are happy to hear that the closure does not include the entire destination, which is at least not as overwhelmed as that of Boracay,” he said.

He appealed to the government to come up with a tourism master plan and consult affected stakeholders before doing rehabilitation in top destinations.

Meanwhile, DENR undersecretary Jonas Leones said a team composed of officers from the environment, tourism and local government departments would start assessing the environmental degradation situation in El Nido next week.

He added that the DENR is also looking at other destinations that include Aurora, Zambales and Puerto Galera.

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said he is giving credit to the El Nido local government unit (LGU) for taking the initiative to initiate the rehabilitation and clean up operation.

“This did not happen in Boracay. In fact, when we were trying to clean Boracay, there were so many objections from the LGU,” Año said.

Local officials from El Nido claimed they have begun closing down establishment violating easement laws, with around 22 establishments already closed. They added that more establishments are being validated on their compliance with easement zone rules. – With Robertzon Ramirez, Catherine Talavera

DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES ROY CIMATU TOURISM
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