The Provincial Board has urged the municipality of El Nido and the environment department to launch an information campaign on the implementation of new regulations limiting the volume of tours to sights around Bacuit Bay, the town’s main attraction.
Board Member David Francis Ponce de Leon, in a resolution, said the campaign is needed in order to avoid complaints from visitors, considering the steady increase of tourists coming to El Nido.
“This is a resolution na magkaroon tayo ng warning sa lahat at malaman ng mga turista na mayroong mga sites na hindi pupuwedeng pasukin, especially ‘yong mga from other countries kung saan they have pre-booked sa mga tours at mga sites doon na hindi nila mapupuntahan,” Ponce de Leon said.
The El Nido-Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area (ETMRPA) has issued a new regulation that limits the entry of visitors in the three most visited areas — Big Lagoon, Small Lagoon, and the Secret Beach.
Under the new regulation, restrictions were also set on berthing areas for tourist boats, such as a maximum of only five boats will be allowed to drop anchor, and 30 kayaks will only be authorized to enter the Big Lagoon and 15 in the Small Lagoon.
The Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) also classified as “strict protection zones” certain islands around the bay including Helicopter Island, Balinaud Beach, Turtle Island and Panacayan Island.
Under the new policy, only 60 guests will be allowed access at any given time or a maximum of 720 guests per day; and a maximum of 30 in the Small Lagoon at any given time, or a total of 360 persons per day.
In the Secret Beach, only 12 visitors will be allowed to enter, also at any given time, or a total of 144 visitors a day.
Municipal data showed that tourist arrival in the town has grown by more than 30 percent annually in the last three years. Last year, it received about 200,000 visits.
The boom of the towns tourism enterprise has worried no less than the DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu, who recently designated the town as a special concern for the department.