MANILA—The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Thursday vowed to give the pink sand beach of Zamboanga a major facelift as part of its efforts to fan tourism arrivals in Mindanao.
This comes after Zamboanga’s pink sand beach located in the Great Sta. Cruz Island or Isla de Sta. Cruz was recognized by international magazine National Geographic as one of the 21 Best Beaches in the World.
DOT Secretary Wanda Teo said she has already instructed DOT Region 9 Director Antonio Blanco to coordinate with its infrastructure implementing arm, the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) to assist the local government in undertaking facilities upgrade, provision of additional cottages and offering more nature-based recreational activities.
The island used to be under the supervision of TIEZA but was turned over to the local government under the City Tourism Office, Protected Management Unit in 2011.
Teo said that the planned development will highlight its conservation and preservation.
“…The outcome should enable locals and foreign visitors alike to enjoy the island’s beauty but still strictly maintaining it as a day destination,” Teo said.
“We would like to attract genuine ecotourists as they take ‘responsible, ethical and sustainable tourism’ to heart,” she added.
Meanwhile, Teo welcomed the inclusion of the island in the National Geographic’s best beaches list.
“We are so proud about this citation and happy about its very timely announcement which comes right after our visit in December when I had pushed for the island’s immediate improvement and development as an ecotourism destination,” Teo said.
In December 2016, Teo visited the island to see the pink sand beach for herself and assure tourists that tourism in the Zamboanga Peninsula is safe regardless of the old stigma attached to its name.
“I personally came here because I want people to know that because ‘the Secretary of Tourism was here’, the more they should come here. I would like to show the world that Zamboanga is safe,” Teo said.
The island is a 3,425-hectare marine reserve which is believed to be bigger than the country’s 24/7 party island, Boracay.
On its website (www.nationalgeographic.com), NatGeo said, “Hardly lacking in gorgeous beaches, the Philippines claims a pink-sand variety, too. The blush color comes from billions of pieces of crushed red organ-pipe coral, seen in every handful of sand. The number of visitors to the island is regulated, and advance arrangements should be made through the tourist office in Zamboanga.”