[ Manila Bulletin Online ] February 28, 2009
Mike U. Crismundo
PATIN-AY, Agusan del Sur – An amount of R4.5 million has been earmarked for the development of the Agusan Marsh Wildlife sanctuary's eco-tourism potentials.
During the recent 1st Executive Meeting of the Agusan Marsh protected area management board with other stakeholders here, the Department of Tourism (DoT) announced its funding support amounting to some R2.5 million, while the provincial government also announced a R2 million funding support for the tourism program of Agusan Marsh.
Agusan del Sur Gov. Ma. Valentina Plaza also vowed her full support for the Agusan Marsh tourism projects, which is located in the six municipalities of the province.
Also present during the 1st Executive Meeting were DoT Regional Director Letty Tan, DENR Protected Areas and Wildlife Regional Technical Director Mario S. Eluda, Agusan del Sur Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer (PENRO) Sixto C. Badua, officials from various travel and tourism agencies, Caraga Travel Links, municipal and provincial officials and other non-government organizations.
In that meeting, the Agusan Marsh stakeholders also approved a united approach for the conservation and preservation of the Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary while uniting all concerned government agencies in enhancing the socio-economic activities being one of the selected tourism destination in the Asia Pacific Region.
"A well coordinated and unifying effort must take place in promoting Agusan Marsh as eco-tourism destination," said Eluda.
The meeting also approved the implementation of conserving bio-diversity of Agusan Marsh through eco-tourism industry.
During meeting, the stakeholders also unanimously approved the holding of regular project meetings, development of linkages and sustainability mechanisms.
One of the priority agenda in that meeting is the rehabilitation of all road networks going to the Agusan Marsh.
"We are ready to help Agusan Marsh in the global tourism spot and we also need the continuous positive response from the local officials," added Tan.
Tan also encouraged the various stakeholders to continue "partnering the private sector" which is also needed in the tourism industry."
She said that at least 45 countries already acknowledged the Agusan Marsh in the Caraga Region as point of tourism industry.
"What we need here is a close coordinating effort so that Agusan Marsh will also be protected while accepting more foreign and domestic tourists," said Badua.
Badua challenged all concerned government agencies and stakeholders "to share their part for the preservation, conservation and protection of its terrestrial, aquatic and habitats of the Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary."