Department of Tourism (DoT) Secretary Wanda Corazon Tulfo-Teo is thrilled over the inclusion of the Great Sta. Cruz Island (also called Isla de Sta. Cruz) in Zamboanga City in the list of the 21 Best Beaches in the World by international publication National Geographic. “We are proud of this citation and happy with the very timely announcement, which comes right after our visit in December when I had pushed for the island’s immediate improvement and development as an ecotourism destination,” she said.
The Great Sta. Cruz Island used to be under the supervision of DoT’s implementing arm for infrastructure, the Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA), now named as Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA). In 2011, it was turned over to the local government’s City Tourism Office, Protected Management Unit.
The DoT chief instructed DoT Region 9 Director Antonio Blanco to coordinate with TIEZA to assist the local government in undertaking facilities upgrade, provision of additional cottages and offering more nature-based recreational activities.
“The planned development will highlight its conservation and preservation, it being a protected area. Nonetheless, the outcome should enable locals and foreign visitors alike to enjoy the island’s beauty but still strictly maintaining it as a day destination. We would like to attract genuine ecotourists as they take ‘responsible, ethical and sustainable tourism’ to heart,” Teo said.
On its website (www.nationalgeographic.com), NatGeo said, “Hardly lacking in gorgeous beaches, the Philippines claims a pink-sand variety, too. The blush color comes from billions of pieces of crushed red organ-pipe coral, seen in every handful of sand. The number of visitors to the island is regulated, and advance arrangements should be made through the tourist office in Zamboanga.”
The Philippines was also part of NatGeo’s List of Top Destinations for 2016. (www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/best-trips-2016)
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