DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/16 April) – Tourists visiting Samal Island for the Holy Week have been reminded to observe proper waste disposal to avoid harming marine life, the island city’s tourism officer Jennifer Carriaga said on Tuesday.
In an interview, Carriaga said the number of visitors would normally spike during the Holy Week as most of them would want to spend their long vacation with families in the island’s beaches since April 18 (Maundy Thursday) and April 19 (Good Friday) are regular holidays.
The Holy Week started with the celebration of Palm Sunday last April 14 and will culminate on Easter Sunday.
“We appeal to the tourists to bring their garbage with them, most especially single-use plastics. Please do not throw your wastes into the sea,” she said.
Plenty of wastes were recovered from Samal, one of Davao Region’s top tourism destinations, during the Holy Week in 2018, according to Carriaga.
Plastic wastes thrown into the sea were blamed for the deaths of the whales recovered on the shores of the Davao Region.
The most recent was a juvenile Cuvier’s beaked whale that died on March 16, 2019, a day after beaching in Barangay Cadunan, Mabini town in Compostela Valley province.
American marine biologist Darrel Blatchley, who is also president of D’ Bone Collector Museum Inc., said at least 40 kilos of assorted plastics were recovered from the stomach of the 15.4-foot whale.
Carriaga said the tourism office of Samal recorded a total of 1.3 million visitors last year.
She said the local government anticipated at least 6,000 daily tourists to visit the island starting Wednesday, prompting the Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine Navy, Air Force, local police and Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office to devise a security plan called “Oplan Semana Santa” to ensure the safety of tourists.
She said the local government had already set up tourist assistance desks to attend to the concerns of the visitors.
Samal has a total of 85 resorts, which are fully booked during the Holy Week, she said.
“Many of the walk-in visitors would find it hard to look for available rooms as the resorts are already fully booked,” she said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)