DOT to Negros Occidental resorts: Promote sustainable tourism

Erwin P. Nicavera

THE Department of Tourism (DOT) in Western Visayas is reminding resorts in Negros Occidental to promote sustainable tourism to counter similar environmental conservation woes hounding Boracay Island in Aklan.

Helen Catalbas, regional director of DOT-Western Visayas, said the mandate is to ensure environmental law compliance among resorts with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and local government units (LGUs).

Catalbas said the Office of the President has a directive that all resorts should have their own sewerage treatment plant or mechanism on how to safely discharge wastes.

“The mandate primarily belongs to the DENR and LGUs, while we can always remind resorts and other tourism accommodation facilities to keep on promoting sustainable tourism development,” she said, adding that the DOT is also helping on disseminating such directive.

In 1991, the DOT has lost its regulatory control over the island and turned it over to the LGU by virtue of Local Government Code of 1991.

Last week, President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the recommendation of the inter-agency task force on Boracay to close Western Visayas' top tourist destination for six months starting April 26.

The President earlier vented frustrations amid environmental woes hounding the island, which he said tourists turned into a cesspool.

In her speech at the two-day Tourism Enterprise Innovation and Self-Reinvention Seminar at GT Hotel in Bacolod City until yesterday, Catalbas said that about 1,000 tons of solid wastes are generated in Boracay every day.

Of the figures, only 300 tons can be transferred by the local government and its private garbage contractor to the mainland Aklan.

Catalbas said the coliform count at the island’s seawater has increased to more than four times already particularly in Bulabog Beach since February this year when Duterte ordered total cleansing of Boracay.

“Boracay will always be the example for the entire Philippines, not only the Western Visayas,” Catalbas said, as she warned other resort-destinations in the region, including Negros Occidental, no to allow the same mess to happen again.

In Negros Occidental, among the localities that host many resorts, especially beaches, include cities of Sipalay, Cadiz, and San Carlos, and towns of Cauayan and Hinoba-an, among others.