ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/20 June) – The city government is now in the process of completing the management and development plans for the Great and Little Sta. Cruz Islands in preparation for the formal takeover of the two ecotourism destinations.
The city government and the Department of Tourism have forged a Memorandum of Agreement for the turnover to the city government of the development of the two islands as protected landscapes and seascapes.
Mayor Celso Lobregat, DOT Secretary Albert Lim, Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprises Zone Authority General Manager Mark Lapid and officials from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources signed the MOA last Friday at the DOT central office.
Lobregat said the plans are to be submitted to the DOT within a month’s time for approval before the formal turnover of the two islands could take place.
He said the city government aims not only to promote ecotourism but also to ensure the preservation of ecological balance.
“Since the two islands are protected seascape and landscape, the development will not be done in such a way that the island’s resources will be exploited,” Lobregat stressed.
“The preservation of the two islands will be foremost in promoting ecotourism,” he added.
The two islands, which are 15 to 20 minutes by motorboat from the Zamboanga City mainland, are favorite site for swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving for both foreign and domestic tourists.
The Great Sta. Cruz Island is known for its pinkish sand while the Little Sta. Cruz Island has beautiful white sand.
Lobregat said steps will be undertaken to make the island accessible to residents, visitors and tourists by increasing the number of watercrafts plying the area.
He also said the facilities or structures that will be constructed in the two islands will be low-impact but quality ones.
“In view of the limited capabilities and capacities of the TIEZA to operate and maintain the islands and the desire of the city to develop, manage, operate and maintain the multiple use zones, there is a need to turn over and transfer such functions from the TIEZA to the city,” the MOA stated.
Lobregat assured the city government has sufficient funds to develop the islands. (MindaNews)