Siargao’s Sugba Lagoon closes for a month for rehab

GENERAL LUNA, Siargao Islands (MindaNews / 05 January) — For the fourth year now,  a popular tourist destination in Del Carmen town in Siargao Islands will be closed again for  a month for its annual rehabilitation and maintenance work, town officials said.

Del Carmen Mayor Proserfina Coro said he hopes the public will understand the temporary closure of Sugba Lagoon effective Friday, January 10.

Sugba Lagoon in Del Carmen. Siargao, Surigao del Norte in this file photo taken on May 10, 2019. MindaNews photo by ROEL CATOTO

Maintenance works are scheduled until early February and it will reopen on February 10, Coro told MindaNews in a telephone interview Sunday morning.

“We will use the time to repair the facilities for the safety of the growing number of tourists,” she said, adding this will be like a tourism holiday to allow the environment to recover.

“We will do repairs, fix everything in preparation for the bigger crowds during the summer season. This cycle is necessary to sustain the area,” she added.

Sugba Lagoon lies in the island village of Caub, a 30-minute boat ride from the port of the town. One has to navigate through a vast expanse of mangroves to get there.

The mayor stressed they will maintain the ban of single-use plastic like bottled water and plastic bags once the popular tourist spot reopens.

She said they will also help clean up the area of  spilled gasoline from pumpboats.

Sugba Lagoon in Del Carmen, Siargao, Surigao del Norte. MindaNews file photo taken 10 May 2019 by ROEL N. CATOTO

“We are telling the boat operators to contain the liquid that comes out from their boat,” she said adding the number of boats plying the route increased from 40 in 2017 to 90 in 2018 and 125 in 2019.

Leilani Lipio, municipal tourism officer said the temporary closure aims to mitigate the pollution caused by the increasing number of tourists.

Lipio said that since Sugba Lagoon’s delicate ecosystem has been put at risk by the growing number of tourists, the local government wants to increase efforts in preserving its beauty.

In 2018, the number of tourists reached 57,022 with 46,474 domestic tourists and 10,548 foreign guests.  Lipio said the number tripled in 2019  or around 171,000 and she expects it would further increase this year citing the social media boost and media millage internationally.

After being named as one of the 19 places to go in 2019, Siargao made it to the international travel magazine, Condé Nast Traveler’s list anew as one of the world’s 20 best holiday destinations for 2020. (Roel N. Catoto / MindaNews)