Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN), a global media company that owns Nickelodeon, will no longer pursue the construction of the controversial Nickelodeon theme park in Coron, Palawan.
VIMN said in statement on Tuesday that it decided to “mutually agree” with the project developer Coral World Park (CWP) to discontinue the IP licensing agreement for the said tourism park.
“Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) has mutually agreed with Coral World Park to discontinue the IP licensing agreement for the Nickelodeon-branded attraction and resort that was intended to be part of Coral World Park’s planned development in the western Philippine province of Palawan,” said Adeline Ong, VIMN Asia’s Senior Director of Corporate Communications.
“Therefore, VIMN and Nickelodeon will no longer be involved with this proposed development. We wish Coral World Park well,” Ong said.
Announced earlier this year, the project was criticized by environmentalists and eco-friendly groups, saying that the project could destroy the area’s marine ecosystem.
The announcement came a few weeks after Greenpeace Philippines, an independent global campaigning organization, urged VIMN to cut its partnership with CWP which the environmental groups found to have “no historical background of any conservation effort anywhere else in the Philippines.”
Vince Cinches, Oceans Campaigner of Greenpeace Philippines, said that through online petition platform Bataris.org.ph., more than a quarter of million people globally have called for the VIMN to “drop this outrageous project as early as possible, or else face a possible reputational backlash.”
“There is nothing entertaining and educational about destroying a biologically important and fragile ecosystem that provides food, livelihood, and various ecosystem services, including cultural identity to indigenous peoples,” Cinches added.
Cinches also said the CWP had failed to publicize the master plan since VIMN announced in January its design to build the “world’s first undersea attraction and Nickelodeon’s first resort in Southeast Asia.”
Scheduled to open in 2020, the undersea attraction and resort is a 400-hectare development in Coron, Palawan. It is Nickelodeon’s fist resort in Southeast Asia and slated to have 70 hectares reserve for the accommodation and 30 hectares for the theme park.
The planned attraction also drew flak from green and civil society groups including the Tagbanua Tribes of Coron Island Association, Incorporate (TTCIA) which said that because of the “island’s beauty and blessings”, indigenous people of Coron are living independently and their communities are self-reliant.
“The legendary heroes of Coron will unite and defend the last ecological frontier of the country, where we live with freedom and abundance,” Tagbanua Tribes of Coron Island Association, Inc. (TTCIA) member Armil Pe Abella who acquired a certificate of ancestral domain title, which grants them authority over 24,264-hectare land and seascape around the municipality of Coron.
“What and who will benefit in the construction of artificial platforms, such as the proposed Nickelodeon undersea theme park, which will undoubtedly destroy Coron’s marine ecosystems? The legitimate owners of Coron, if the planned attraction is realized, will lose access to our land, our waters, and will negatively affect our culture and way of life. We do not need an underwater theme park in Coron,” the tribe said in the petition letter submitted to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Last May, the Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo Teo said in an interview with the CNN Philippines that the project would push through; however, she backpedaled and said the DENR has the decision for the approval of the project.
The online petition gathered above 200,000 online signatures within a few days, with the #CoronisnotBikiniBottom trending on numerous social media platforms for several days. It climbed to over 250,000 signatures after Teo’s statement.