More than the usual sightseeing and leisure tourism, the local government of Bolinao is eyeing to offer an environmental awareness and educational tour eyed to promote an island here as a tourism hub while sustaining and protecting the aquamarine environment.
The heart-shaped Silaki Island of this town is home to thousands of giant clams, taken-cared of in an almost 16 hectares portion of the ocean.
Tourists will also be allowed to experience personally preparing native rice cakes and dried fish and make native bags.
Bolinao tourism officer Mary de Guzman-Suarez told the Philippine News Agency that the project aims to give tourists firsthand experience on the significance of the giant clam in the ecosystem.
“We will offer giant clams tour and community immersion. It includes mini-museum for the fossilized giant clams and other artifacts, mini-experience center for the community immersion, and trail for bird watching and nature photography in the island,” she said.
This is the proposed community-based project of the municipal government of Bolinao in partnership with the University of the Philippines-Marine Science Institute (UPMSI), titled The Legacy of the Sea: A Silaki Island Community-Based Tourism Project, which is the brainchild of Vice Mayor Richard Celeste.
The project proposal is one of the top five finalists in the Department of Tourism’s Tourism Champion Challenge (TCC) that aims to uplift and develop tourism destinations by fostering creative project concepts.
De Guzman-Suarez cited the importance of giant clams in filtering sea water, serving as habitat for aquamarine species, and producing mineral that form coral reefs, which are vital in preserving the sea as source of livelihood for the residents.
UPMSI has been caring and breeding thousands of giant clams that include eight of the nine giant species in the country.
“UPMSI identified an area for leisure, for study, and buffer zone. We see to it the area will not be disturbed since floating docks will be placed and there will be no construction to protect the giant clam area,” De Guzman-Suarez said.
The project is also eyed to provide alternative source of income to the locals.
“We wanted tourism as alternative job for them because the residents rely only on fishing,” she said in Filipino.
Construction of the jump-off point port will start in the first quarter of this year and this will be financed by the winnings from the DOT competition.
The top five TCC finalists will receive cash prizes ranging from PHP7 million to PHP20 million. The ranks of the winners will be announced on Feb. 21 this year. (PNA)