Sta. Cruz Island wows BIMP-EAGA tour execs PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 22 October 2014 12:01

The Great Sta. Cruz Island, about 2.49 nautical miles off the mainland city of Zamboanga, never fails to fascinate its growing number of visitors, the latest among them were tourism officials from Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia who came here for the two-day conference on joint tourism development.

In fact, it was recommended during the conference that the Sta. Cruz Island will be showcased in the BIMP-EAGA’s short-term plan for community-based ecotourism sites and destinations.

“I feel like a tourist myself when we were visiting Sta. Cruz Island this morning. That was really something we can learn from and adopt in our countries, in so many ways,” said Noraini Haji Tersad, tourism delegation head from Brunei.

Azwir Malaon, head of Indonesian delegation and director for Indonesia’s Destination Development, said although his country has many beautiful islands as well, but the Island of Sta. Cruz is by far one of the best in the world for its very white sand and pristine water.

“Coming down here to Zamboanga for the first time, we’ve seen something different, something similar to what we have in our country and we learned a lot. The people are so welcoming and fantastic,” Malaon said.

For his part, Datu Ik Pahon Anak Joyik of Malaysia and chair of BIMP-EAGA Joint Tourism Development Cluster, said his visit to Zamboanga City for the first time has been very interesting and encouraging.

“Seeing is believing. Rest assured when we go home we will do our part to make sure Zamboanga is always in our mind,” he said.

These tourism officials arrived in Zamboanga City Sunday for the 11th Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Joint Tourism Development Cluster Meeting, during which they discussed tourism development strategies that would enhance calibration and cooperation among BIMP-EAGA tourism agencies, stakeholders, industry players and local governments to ensure a more cohesive approach in marketing and promoting priority tourism destinations.

They also discussed the development of community-based ecotourism sites and attractions, of which Sta. Cruz Island was identified as one for the Philippines.

Tourism Assistant Secretary for Mindanao Arturo Boncato Jr. said the BIMP-EAGA countries agreed two years on a rolling pipeline list of community-based ecotourism sites, and the Philippines then registered Lake Cebu as one among many others.

Boncato said during the meeting delegates from each country shared their accomplishments on what was agreed two years ago.

This time, he said, the group has recommended that Sta. Cruz Island becomes the next community-based ecotourism site that the Philippines will focus on under the BIMP-EAGA joint tourism development strategy. —Vic Larato