By Yas D. Ocampo
Samal Island, Davao Del Norte — The Island Garden City of Samal (Igacos) is positioning itself as an ideal alternative to Boracay Island, the world-renowned beach destination which is being hounded by environmental issues which was raised by President Duterte.
The Samal group of islands, a preferred beach destination in Mindanao, is 15 minutes away from Davao City.
“The resort owners are preparing even if summer is not here yet,” Araceli Ayuste, Davao del Norte tourism officer said.
The preparations refer to, among others, the expected increase in local and foreign tourists this year.
Aside from the Holy Week and summer season surge, two major sporting events, the Alveo Ironman and Durian Man Triathlon are also expected to further boost Samal’s tourism industry.
The local governments here, meanwhile, are working hand in hand with stakeholders to prevent incidents of environmental mismanagement, particularly those pertaining to sewage and waste disposal, which could encroach on and ruin the island’s pristine beachfronts.
“There are also suppliers approaching us for sewage treatments as well as recycling materials such as plastics and bottles,” Ayuste said.
The grounded waste materials could be used as byproducts such as construction materials.
Meanwhile, resort operators here are usually careful about the carrying capacities of their establishments to avoid discomfort and other problems during the peak season.
“We can’t overpopulate the island,” Ayuste said of tourist arrivals.
Ayuste said the main product of the island is nature.
Meanwhile, the island is in a quandary over the implementation of an ordinance prohibiting the establishment of jetties as well as promoting open beaches along the island’s coasts.
However, the measure, Ordinance 150 series of 2009, is not clear on what to do with the structures built before the passage of the ordinance.
The jetties in the past were built by resort owners to allow for access from the sea in the absence of a road network around 10 years ago.
In Talicud Island , jetties are discouraged, as a 20-kilometer circumferential road is being built.