GENERAL LUNA, Siargao Island (MindaNews / 9 March) – A popular tourist destination in Del Carmen town in Siargao Islands that had been closed for maintenance and facility upgrade works reopened last March 5, town officials said.
But Leilani C. Lipio, municipal tourism officer, said via mobile phone that they now limit the number of guests to Sugba Lagoon to 100 per day.
Sugba lagoon lies in the island village of Caub, a 30-minute boat ride from the Del Carmen port. One has to navigate through a vast expanse of mangroves to get there.
Lipio said the recent shutdown at the lagoon, a resort managed by the municipal government, aims to mitigate the pollution caused by the growing number of tourists.
Del Carmen Mayor Alfredo M. Coro Jr. said earlier that the shutdown was extended due to extensive repairs and construction of new facilities. Furthermore, he said the temporary closure was to allow the environment to recover.
“We can do repairs, fix everything in preparation for the bigger crowds during the summer season. This cycle is necessary to sustain the area,” the mayor said.
Lipio said the extension was also due to the delay of shipment of the eco-septic equipment that they purchased in Manila.
“Right now the two eco-septic tanks with a capacity of more than 2,000 liters each are on their way here,” she said.
Last January the sewerage system at the lagoon clogged up and had to be condemned. This prompted the local government unit to close the lagoon for maintenance and rehabilitation works, Lipio said.
She said the number of tourists that visited the lagoon last year reached 31,000.
Lipio said that since Sugba Lagoon’s delicate ecosystem has been put at risk by the growing number of tourists, the local government wanted to increase efforts in preserving its beauty.
“We have seen the problem of food waste coming from the tourists,” she said, adding that selling of food onsite is now prohibited to visitors.
Lipio said tourists are now barred from leaving behind their garbage in the vicinity of the lagoon. They have to bring their garbage with them, she added, and have them disposed properly in the mainland or face a fine. (Roel N. Catoto / MindaNews)