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Lapu-Lapu City celebrates Month of the Ocean
On May 19, US Ambassador Kristie Kenney received the ceremonial maiden ticket during the launch of Lapu-Lapu City's Environmental and Visitor Fee System.
Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Arturo Radaza presented Visitor Ticket No. 000001 to Ambassador Kenney as the City unveiled its new ordinance prescribing the collection of environment fees for arriving tourists.
Under the new ordinance, tourists would be required to pay $1 (or PhP50.00) as they check-in at any accommodation establishment within the City. Exempted FROM the fees are all bonafide residents of the province of Cebu, children below 12 years old, and those arriving for academic or scientific research purposes.
The bulk of proceeds FROM the visitor fees would go to the City's program on coastal resource management, specifically rehabilitation of coral reef areas and coastal law enforcement. These initiatives aim to enhance food security and promote tourism, which is the City's lifeblood. 50% will go to a special account for CRM and ecotourism; 25% to barangay LGUs for CRM projects; 25% to LGU general fund.
"We need a paradigm shift in environmental management. Before, natural resources were abundant and our policy was to exploit it," said Councilor Mario Amores, who sponsored the ordinance.
Amores also explains that the critical situation of the environment calls for its protection and conservation.
"Lapu-Lapu exercises its power to collect fees in ORDER to find innovative ways of protecting the integrity of the coastal resources. Every tourist has a significant impact on the environment, and should become partners in protecting it," added Amores.
Lapu-Lapu is renowned as an international tourist destination for its first class beach resorts, historical sites, outstanding biodiversity and natural beauty. It is also host to Olango Island, a resting stop for birds traveling the East Asian migratory flyway.
Being the gateway to Cebu, Lapu-Lapu is also privileged to have splendid dive sites only a few minutes away FROM an international airport. An estimated 200,000 tourists arrive in the City each year and the collection of visitor fees will help in the City's coastal environment management.
Ambassador Kenney's visit reaffirmed the US government's concrete commitment to enhancing environmental governance, strengthening of coastal resource management, and promotion of sustainable tourism in the region.
WWF is supporting the coastal resource management program of Lapu-Lapu through the Coastal Resources and Fisheries Conservation (CRFC) Project funded by the USAID.
Also part of the program was the launch of the Marine Sanctuary Stewardship Ordinance of Lapu-Lapu. USAID OEE Chief Daniel Moore and WWF-Philippines CEO Lory Tan attended the event. The Talima Marine Sanctuary in Olango Island is deemed as another CRM innovation of the city.
The stewardship program grants management of marine protected areas (MPA) to private organizations. The Talima Marine Sanctuary is the first MPA to benefit FROM this scheme with Talima's Barangay Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (BFARMC) being declared as the first steward. The stewardship also assigns to the steward the task of collecting diver's fees/snorkeling fees for the MPA.
The City will also be announcing the creation of the Lapu-Lapu Coastal Law Enforcement Task Force. The TF was created to address the rise in destructive and illegal fishing activities in the city. It is composed of representatives FROM various stakeholder groups and enforcement agencies.
The partnership between Lapu-Lapu, USAID and WWF is expected to intensify the City's budding coastal resource management program and boost hopes for sustainability of tourism. Other local partners supporting the environment program include the City FARMC, Ocean Care Foundation, Philippine Business for Social Progress, and the Coastal Conservation and Education Foundation.
Stakeholders FROM various sectors have joined hands in launching Lapu-Lapu's momentous coastal management initiatives as we celebrated the nation's Month of the Ocean. May is observed annually as the Philippine Month of the Ocean by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 57 issued in 1999.
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Page last updated: 29 May 2006
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