Steady increase seen in Hundred Islands tourist arrivals
By Danny O Sagun
Dagupan City (10 November) -- Tourist arrivals at the popular Hundred Islands National Park doubled from about 70,000 in 1990 to 140,425 as of November 8 this year.
In his report, Reynaldo T. Livara, Jr., HINP technical consultant, disclosed that a total of 1,631,644 tourists including 78,254 foreigners have visited the 1,800 hectare-park since 1990.
It was noted that in 2005, there were 63,656 including 3,733 foreigners who went to the place, one of the lowest recorded arrivals. HINP, which has a total of 123 islands, was then under the Philippine Tourism Authority.
The city government of Alaminos took over in 2006. The figures jumped to 111,784 in that year, Livara pointed out. The following year recorded the highest with 148,458 including 10,015 foreign tourists.
He attributed the steady increase to the innovations introduced by the city government under Mayor Hernani Braganza.
The mayor lamented however about attempts to discredit his administration over alleged irregularities and pollution in the protected area. "Kinuha natin ito from the national government, ginastosan natin at dumami ang pumupunta rito. Nalulungkot ako na ang provincial government mismo and tumutulong sa kasiraan ng national park," he told a radio interview, referring to the aerial shot of fishponds said to be within the park which was exposed last week thru the media.
He also lashed out at first district congressman Jesus Celeste who earlier bared during a press conference in Bolinao that fishponds separate from those operated by the Bolo Development Cooperative (Bolodeco) are being operated by nine private individuals within the park.
Braganza clarified in a press conference Tuesday at the Island Tropic restaurant in barangay Lucap, that city, that the fishponds said to be owned by his relatives are located at the mainland and not at the park. "Wala po ito sa Hundred Islands National Park. Napakatagal na po ito. Legal po yan at mayroon pong mga titulo," he said in his press statement.
"Nakakalungkot po na dahil sa kanilang iresponsableng mga pahayag o black propaganda, nasisira ang industriya ng turismo hindi lang sa lungsod ng Alaminos ngunit pati na rin ng buong lalawigang Pangasinan," he added.
He vowed that during his incumbency he would see to it that the park remains as it is being a top tourist drawer and that he would foil any attempt to take it from the city government. Told that he was on his last term, he said that the people of Alaminos themselves especially those benefitting from the burgeoning tourist industry would be the ones to protect the area from those with vested interests.
Braganza later toured the media practitioners at the controversial Bolodeco fishponds where he showed the breached dikes, an evidence, he said, that the fishponds have not been operational for years. (PIA) [top]