DOT 11 to develop river communities as eco-tourism sites

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 23 March) – The Department of Tourism (DOT) 11 is planning to develop the river communities in the provinces here as eco-tourism sites to support the livelihoods of the fisherfolks and the lumads.

In an interview during the DOT regional consultation workshop on “Ilog” Tourism Tuesday, DOT director Roberto Alabado III told reporters that they gathered different city and municipal tourism and environmental officers to propose a list of potential rivers that can be enrolled into this new tourism project.

“It is strategic to spread the benefits of tourism. Rivers are home of our tribes and fisherfolks, who would benefit from the eco-tourism program by providing more market to their products,” he said.

Alabado said they want to replicate the efforts being undertaken that made the Loboc River in Bohol province successful but added they want it to be done here based on the rivers’ own “characteristics” and the cultural diversity of the indigenous people (IPs) in this region.

Davao Region is composed of five provinces (Davao del Sur, Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley, and Davao Occidental) and one chartered city (Davao City).

He said they will do pre-feasibility study upon which they would identify the river communities that will get the support from DOT 11 and Department of Trade and Industry (DIT) 11 in terms of livelihood by teaching them how to improve their local cuisine and create souvenir items for the future tourists.

“After the pre-feasibility study, we will do an on-the-ground consultation with the communities,” Alabado said.

He said the DOT 11 can help them develop a plan for river cruise and capability building for the stakeholders.

Alabado said they are hoping to start with this new river tourism program in one area – either Tagum City in Davao del Norte or Davao Oriental – before they would roll it out to other potential sites to see the sustainability of this project.

“But we are not also going to stop other communities if they want to do this project. We are still going to help them develop a plan,” he said.

Alabado said that they want this project to be pushed through, as he believes it can teach the communities the value of protecting the rivers and be more proactive in the conservation efforts.

“We can teach them to prevent them from polluting and stop them from poisoning our rivers,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)