HINATUAN –The Department of Tourism (DOT) in CARAGA region is now working on a community-based tourism program for Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur to protect the town’s top tourist destination – the Enchanted River.
Mary Jean Camarin, DOT Caraga officer-in-charge, emphasized the need to institute a program for Enchanted River to save it from destruction and degradation.
“There is no planned program and structure being implemented inside the Enhanted River to ensure its sustainability. The river has gone beyond its carrying capacity,” Camarin said.
Based on their record, the Enchanted River roughly receives 687 tourist arrivals every day.
The number of visitors arriving at the Enchanted River per day is alarming given that the spot has only limited space and the structures built are not enough to accommodate them, she said.
Based on a study commissioned by the DOT, the carrying capacity of Enchanted River is only 147 visitors per day.
To protect Enchanted River, Camarin said the local government of Hinatuan is now working with the Regional Eco-Tourism Committee chaired by the DOT, together with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the National Economic and Development Authority, to come out with a comprehensive plan to protect and further develop the river.
Among the priorities that the committee will implement is to limit the number of daily visitors, the removal of unnecessary structures and regulations in the swimming area, Camarin said.
“We need to sit down and determine what structures are fit and necessary inside the place. This is part of our overall aim to protect the Enchanted River and at the same time make it the top destination site in Hinatuan and the province of Surigao del Sur,” sheadded.
A PHP1 million fund has been allocated for the planning and programming of the area, she said.
“The committee is expected to come up with a comprehensive development plan for the Enchanted River,” Camarin said.
Camarin also told reporters that Hinatuan town still has an unreleased fund amounting to PHP10 million for tourism development from the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zones Authority (TIEZA).
She said that one key requirement for Hinatuan to access the fund is to come up with a tourism development site in the area.
She said the DOT and the Hinatuan local government unit are working to come up with tourism programs and projects to utilize the PHP10 million fund from TIEZA.