Capitol, Oslob execs agree to regulate whale shark watchers

The Capitol’s tourism office and the local government of Oslob on Oct. 25 finally agreed to reduce tourists and visitors for the famous whale watching activity in a move to balance environmental concerns and tourist satisfaction.

In a meeting held last month led by Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale, it was agreed that allowed tourists to participate in the recreational activity will be limited to a maximum of 800 daily.

Cebu Provincial Tourism Officer Joselito “Boboi” Costas said the move came after a consultation with local guides and the local government of Oslob, along with officials of the Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7.

Gonzalo Rhincodon Araujo of the Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines (LAMAVE) Project, officials of the Tan-awan Oslob Whale Shark Fishermen Association (TOWSFA), University of San Carlos Marine (USC) Biology Department, Coastal Conservation and Education Foundation (CCEF), Cebu Association of Tour Operators (CATO), USC Industrial Engineering Department and Smart Communications also attended the meeting.

Costas explained that all concerned agencies have committed themselves to introduce sustainable measures or initiatives for the town.

The local government of Oslob recognized that tourism has given the town local prosperity, and this newfound prosperity must be sustained and future-proofed, Costas said.

“Leaders come and go, but if you have a strong and sustainable tourism industry, it will outlive leaders and terms of offices,” said Costas.

Asked whether the reduction of tourists would have an effect on the income of the locals, Costas said that the global market of ecotourism and nature-based tourism are growing and upscale.

He said these tourists are usually well traveled, articulate and willing to spend not necessarily on five-star hotel but on “five-star experience,” such as interaction with whale sharks.

Costas said the Cebu Provincial Tourism Office plans to help manage the Oslob whale shark tourism through a scientific approach by collaborating with organizations like LAMAVE, USC Marine Bio and CCEF.

It will base its strategies through evidence-based studies, Costas said.

Sustainable Tourism is among the programs of the Cebu Provincial Tourism Office under the collaborative leadership of Cebu Gov. Hilario P. Davide III and Vice Gov. Agnes A. Magpale.

It is anchored on the Provincial Government’s mantra, “Kalambuan sa Matag Sugbuanon.”

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