Senator Cynthia Villar welcomed the signing into law of the bill declaring the coastal sanctuary in Balanga City, Bataan as a responsible, community-based ecotourism site.
Villar, chair of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources and principal sponsor of Republic Act 11365 or the Balanga Wetland and Nature Park (BWNP) Responsible Ecotourism Act, said the enactment stresses the importance of the legislation which promotes environmental stewardship.
“It will further promote environmental sustainability considering that BWNP is a known sanctuary of birds and fish.”
“The benefits of the enactment of the bill will redound significantly to the economic growth of the people of the City of Balanga and the Province of Bataan and to the tourism development in the area. It will also further promote environmental sustainability considering that BWNP is a known sanctuary of birds and fish,” the veteran legislator said.
The park covers 153,578 sqm of mangrove forest and 187,500 sqm of foreshore land in Barangay Tortugas. According to a report from the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines, the area is home to some 9,500 resident and migratory birds.
Bataan 2nd District Rep. Jose Enrique Garcia said the park is a popular bird watching site in Region III where the annual Ibong Dayo Festival is held.
As a special ecotourism zone, BWNP will be accorded priority development by the Department of Environment & Natural Resources (DENR), the Department of Tourism (DOT), Department of Public Works & Highways and the Tourism Infrastructure & Enterprise Zone Authority.
“Sustainable tourism is the only option especially nowadays.”
“Sustainable tourism is the only option especially nowadays, where there are many well-documented incidents of damage to the environment or natural resources, including marine and aquatic resources in various tourism sites here and abroad. Tourism, without environment preservation and protection, is usually the cause of such,” the seasoned lawmaker stressed in her sponsorship speech of the measure.
The law mandates the formation of the Balanga Wetland and Natural Park Development Council headed by the mayor of the City of Balanga. The council will be responsible for the formulation and the implementation of the ecotourism development and management plan in consultation with local residents, businesses and other stakeholders.
The lady senator added that with the enactment of the law, momentum will keep going as far as tourism development in Region 3 is concerned.
According to DOT-Central Luzon, ecotourism is a fast-growing segment of the region’s tourism market. Moreover, Bataan province is among the thriving areas in the region with a record of 480,917 travelers in 2017.