The home of the famous Hundred Islands National Park (HINP) in the province of Pangasinan has started implementing measures involving both the local government and the communities to ensure sustainable tourism in the city.
In an interview on Wednesday, city tourism officer Miguel Sison said they celebrated Tourism Month this year by focusing on training the personnel and tourism workers to strengthen the city’s environmental advocacies.
“We have trained our personnel in water search and rescue, while front-liners in tourism were also trained in customer service and culture of tourism,” he said.
At a forum hosted by the Philippine Information Agency Pangasinan on Tuesday, Sison discussed the importance of raising awareness on environmental advocacies to make tourism sustainable in the city, as he invited other non-government organizations to join them in their different activities like mangrove or tree planting and clean-up drives.
“We wanted the residents especially in the coastal areas to be aware of the importance of cleanliness so we hold a regular coastal clean-up together with the barangay officials,” he said.
The city is “very keen” on cleanliness not just in the HINP but also inside “discipline zones” where smoking, spitting and parking, among others, are prohibited.
“Dahil naniniwala kami na kailangan malinis at maayos para maganda experience mga bisita (We believe that it should be clean and orderly so the guests would have a wonderful experience),” Sison said.
Within the HINP, the “Basura Mo, Iuwi Mo,” is still being implemented wherein guests are asked to deposit PHP200 and are given two garbage bags where they will dispose of their biodegradable and non-biodegradable wastes.
The PHP200 deposit will then be returned to the guests once they surrender the garbage bags with their disposed waste.
Another best practice in the city is their Scubasurero program (from the words scuba diving and “basurero” or garbage collector), which started in 2016 and involves volunteer scuba divers cleaning the seas.
Some employees of the city government, who are licensed scuba divers, were the first scubasureros and collected garbage at the HINP, especially those trapped in seagrasses, on a quarterly basis.
Sison said a regular water quality inspection by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources is also being done to ensure that the water quality in the seas of the city is fit for swimming.
He also assured the public that Alaminos is a very peaceful and drug-fee, with hard drinks banned within the island and smoking allowed only in designated smoking areas in the city proper.
Attractions include the Pilgrimage Island, a bonsai garden, and a 448-meter-long boardwalk at the city’s Mangrove Park in Barangay Bued which is open to the public from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Activities that can be done at the park include bird, bat and monkey watching, as well different water sports.
Meanwhile, Sison invited tourists to also explore other attractions and join advocacies to preserve the natural beauty of the tourist destinations here like mangrove planting activities.
He said the boardwalk at the Mangrove Park highlights the mangrove’s importance in the ecosystem.
“A mangrove is a home of marine life. It is where they lay their eggs,” he added.
The Mangrove Park has a function hall, which could be rented out as a reception venue for weddings and other occasions.
The city also has the engineered kawayan (bamboo) factory where visitors can buy souvenirs or accessories or watch in group a demonstration on how engineered or e-bamboos are used for livelihood.
Entrance to the park requires a minimal fee, while the entrance to the factory is free.
Alaminos has already surpassed last year’s tourist arrivals with over 300,000 arrivals from Jan. 1 to Sept. 25 this year, and an average of 200 to 300 guests on weekdays and over 1,000 guests on weekends during the regular season with over PHP34.7 million collections. (PNA)