Mahinog, Camiguin. – Tourists are flocking to Mantigue Island with 9,004 visitors from November 2008 to October this year or after more than a year since local officials started its current restoration program for the island’s eco system, Mahinog Mayor Alex R. Jajalla said.
Mantigue, a 15 minute motor boat ride from the town of Mahinog, which boasts of white sand beaches and finest dive sites, has now emerged as a favorite nature tourism destination in northern Mindanao, the regional office of the department of tourism said.
Mayor Jajalla said that this was the highest number of tourists registered by the town’s business development office compared to only a few numbers of visitors in previous years.
He added that the rise of tourist arrivals is attributed to the local government’s continuing drive to restore and protect the island’s eco system, a move that attract tourists to visit the islet.
“The marked increase of tourists in Mantigue is a result of our environmental conservation efforts providing additional revenues for the town and economic opportunities of the people,” the mayor said.
Mantigue is part of the province’s comprehensive coastal resource management program.
In an earlier statement, Jajalla said that the presence of illegal settlers endangered the isle’s bio diversity. The turtles were disappearing, trees were cut, peace and order and garbage disposal became a perennial problem prompting local officials to save Mantigue.
He added that the municipal trial court is still hearing on the charges filed by the local government and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)against the remaining 22 families for illegal occupancy and violation of environmental laws.
“In order to save this island from environmental degradation, we have to clear and get rid of this islet from people that only endanger its eco systems,” he said, adding that the local government has offered a resettlement package for families who heed the call to relocate.
He said half of the 44 families took the offer but the remaining half remained defiant to government’s call to relocate.
Jajalla said that contrary to the claim from the opposing camp, this initiative is not only about eco-tourism efforts. “We look at the big picture that will make a significant difference in the lives of the people in the coming years,” he stressed.
The emergence of Mantigue as an eco-tourism destination would have beneficial effects on the environment by way of raising awareness among the people on environmental protection and conservation, said the mayor.
”Once environment is properly managed and sustained, in the long run this would have a positive economic impact for the people of Mahinog,” he concluded. (Municipal Information Office)