Crater-lake in SouthCot closed to tourists to give it ‘breathing time’

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 5 Jan) – For the third time in four years, the famed crater-lake Holon in T’boli town in South Cotabato will be off-limits anew to local and international visitors starting on Saturday, Jan. 7, to facilitate its rehabilitation.

T’boli Mayor Dibu Tuan said Thursday they decided to again close down the lake and its environs to all tourism-related activities to give it some “breathing time” after hosting thousands of visitors last year.

He said the 304-hectare lake’s temporary closure will run until March 10 or a total of 63 days.

“The local tourism industry soared high in 2016 and so we want to give routine breathing time for the lake,” the mayor said.

Aside from resting the lake, Tuan said the local government will rehabilitate the existing cottages and other tourism facilities at the site as well as hold trainings and refresher courses for its frontline personnel.

He said they will also conduct a biodiversity assessment of the area in coordination with environmental experts.

Tuan ordered Rodel Hilado, the municipality’s designated tourism officer, to spearhead the implementation of the closure order and the rehabilitation activities.

The local government first closed down the lake for nine months in June 2014 to March 2015. It again issued a temporary closure order from Jan. 11 to March 5 last year or a total of 55 days.

With the closure, the local government blocked the three main entry points to the lake in Barangay T’bolok and Sitios Kule and Nabul in Barangay Salacafe.

Lake Holon, formerly known as Maughan, is nestled at Mt. Melebingoy (Mt. Parker), which is listed as an active volcano.

In 2003 and 2004, Lake Holon was declared as the cleanest inland body of water in the entire country.

The Department of Tourism in Region 12 has been promoting the lake as part of a local ecotourism circuit that includes the Bakngeb Cave in Barangay Laconon, Lamhaku Hot Spring in Barangay Lamhaku, and Hidak Falls and Hikong Kemebel in Barangay Kematu. (MindaNews)