DOT says Lolong’s death won’t affect tourism in Caraga region

BUTUAN CITY (MindaNews/17 February) —  The death of Lolong, the world’s largest saltwater crocodile in captivity,  will not affect tourism in the region and in the town of Bunawan in Agusan del Sur, Letty Tan, regional director of the Department of Tourism (DOT) said.

“Tourism in Bunawan is not dead. Lolong was only a part of the entire tourism promotion, the main tourist attraction in the town as well as in Agusan del Sur is the Agusan Marsh. Lolong may have brought the attention the province needed because of its popularity but we already have plans to further boost tourism in the town as well as the region,” she said.

Tan said Lolong’s skeletal frame and its stuffed skin will be displayed in what would be referred to a “museum”  inside the eco-park in Bunawan.

It will take another two to three months to prepare it for it to be exhibited, she said.

He said a P5-M building presently under construction and which was intended  to be a reception and display center before Lolong died, will now serve as museum for Lolong’s remains.

Tan also said that before the capture of Lolong, part of the municipal tourism plan was already directed towards the Agusan Marsh.

“Agusan Marsh has been one of the key destinations that we had been promoting for Bunawan long before the crocodile became a tourist attraction. Bird watching and cultural tours to the floating villages are just some of the activities visitors can experience in the marshland,” she added.

But for residents in Bunawan, things would not be the same after Lolong s death.

“The death of Lolong will change a lot of things,” said Ronnie Sarita, a tricycle driver for the last eight years.

“If we compare it before the crocodile was captured, we don’t have that many people coming now to visit this town. (When Lolong was alive), hundreds of people would get off  the bus then we transport them straight to the eco-park,” he said. (Erwin Mascarinas/MindaNews)