The people of Balanga City in Bataan can look forward to a boost in their tourism industry with the signing into law of a bill declaring their coastal sanctuary as a responsible, community-based ecotourism site.
“The enactment of this bill will redound significantly to the economic growth of the people of the City of Balanga and the Province of Bataan and to the tourism development in the area,” said Senator Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the Committee on Environment and principal sponsor of Republic Act No. 11365 or the Balanga Wetland and Nature Park Responsible Ecotourism Act.
“It will also further promote environmental sustainability considering that BWNP is a known sanctuary of birds and fish,” she added.
The park covers 153,578 sq.m. of mangrove forest and 187,500 sq.m. of foreshore land in Barangay Tortugas.
According to a report of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines, the area is home to some 9,500 resident and migratory birds.
Bataan 2nd District Rep. Jose Enrique Garcia said the park is a popular bird watching site where the annual Ibong Dayo Festival is held.
As a special ecotourism zone, BWNP will be accorded priority development by the departments of environment, tourism, and public works and the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority.
The law will pave the way for the creation of the Balanga Wetland and Natural Park Development Council headed by the city mayor. It will be responsible for the formulation and the implementation of an ecotourism development and management plan in consultation with local residents, businesses and other stakeholders.
“Sustainable tourism is the only option especially nowadays, where there are many well-documented incidents of damage to the environment or natural resources, including marine and aquatic resources in various tourism sites here and abroad. Tourism, without environment preservation and protection, is usually the cause of such,” Villar said.