Freeman Cebu Business

DOT supports Cebu’s eco-tourism zone bid

Ehda Dagooc - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - The bid to make Barangay Ga-as in Balamban as Eco-Tourism Zone of Cebu has gained momentum as the Department of Tourism has thrown its support to the initiative.

Edwin Ortiz, director for Tourism Promotions Board, said that tourism secretary Ramon Jimenez instructed him to write a letter to Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) chief Ramon Jesus P. Paje requesting his office to hasten the classification status of barangay Ga-as.

Ortiz, who is also one of the prime movers of the Ga-as Manunggal Eco-Tourism Group, said that Jimenez is interested to promote Manunggal, the site where former President Ramon Magsaysay’s  plane crashed.

In its letter to DENR Protected Area Management Board, the Ga-as-Manunggal  group will request immediate identification of protected sites in the barangay so they could pursue their plans.

“There are a lot of things we want to do there. But we can not start unless the DENR-PAMB will identify which part is protected,” said  Ortiz.

Ideally, the  hillyland eco-tourism promotion  will  start from JY Square going to Busay,  driving through the transcentral highway to Balamban in the western part of Cebu, and  ends in Manunggal.

The neighboring communities in Ga-as as well as the several adventure parks, restaurants, camping facilities in the area are also supporting the creation of Cebu’s first eco-tourism economic zone.

Ortiz’s,  co-owner of Adventure Cafe in Ga-as which offers zipline and other adventure activities,  said that there is now an increasing interest from investors to build tourism-related facilities there.

With the numerous mini water falls, caves, flower and vegetable plantations,  Cebu’s highlands, particularly from Barangay Busay in Cebu City to Balamban town,  have gigantic potential for eco-tourism developments, but Ortiz  said some of the lands are still questionable.

This is where the support of concerned government agencies like that of DENR is needed. Once approved,  the Eco-Tourism Zone of Cebu will make the mountain barangays, specifically Ga-as much alive, with more capitalists  putting in their investments, more tourists will come to visit, and locals, especially the farmers,  will have an opportunity to earn more.

The Eco-Tourism Zone of Cebu concept was presented by the group some five years ago to the Cebu Provincial government. Although it has gotten favorable interest from the province, Ortiz said approval will depend on DENR’s move to identify the questionable and protected areas. (FREEMAN)


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