To recover the splendor of Kawasan Falls, the Cebu Provincial Government has decided to take over the operations of the world-renowned tourist spot and canyoneering activities in the municipality of Badian, starting with ordering its closure while clearing hazardous structures that might hurt the tourists.
On June 2, Gov. Gwen Garcia signed Executive Order No. 14 series of 2023 which orders for the temporary closure and suspension of canyoneering activities in Matutinao, Badian after hazardous metallic spikes and structures illegally built within the defined easement zones of Kawasan were found by environment and local officials.
Most of these are debris left by typhoon Odette in December 2021 and have not been cleared since.
"That's a disaster waiting to happen," the governor said, referring to the hazardous structures in Kawasan, in an interview on Monday, June 5.
“I don't want a black mark on Cebu's tourism particularly on Kawasan Falls which is a recognized and one of the most beautiful falls in the world. So, rather than allow that disaster to happen, we might as well take preemptive action that's why I had to issue that EO.”
She said before she issued the EO, the tour operators in Badian and the local government had already been notified on the plan.
"Kawasan needs to be properly cleared of hazardous materials that are in the falls. That's the most immediate. You see, whatever happens to Cebu will ultimately reflect on our Tourism secretary. She comes from Cebu," she said, referring to her daughter, Christina Garcia-Frasco.
She said these illegal structures, deemed to be unhabitable after the Odette disaster, have to be removed.
"We have to clear that. So that we will really be able to see the full splendor of Kawasan Falls without these eye sores, so we would be clearing that," Gov. Gwen said.
Another reason why the governor moved to temporarily close Kawasan is to allow the tourism stakeholders in Badian to properly organize; agree on right protocols and uniform rates; adopt a unified treatment of the canyoneering guests; and make sure proper standards are met.
Badian, the governor said, needs to be able to come up with standardized rates in canyoneering activities and disciplines.
Gov. Gwen said the general public can look forward to the re-presentation of Kawasan Falls, that is why Capitol is doing "everything that needs to be done" to achieve this.
"We would hope the general public could see just how beautiful Kawasan is," she said.
Kawasan had since only be allowed to canyoneering post Odette, and not to public viewing.
The governor said "we cannot hold this off" already and should open Kawasan fully to tourists after these clearing operations to "take advantage of revenge tourism." | Carlo Lorenciana