Celso assures ‘low impact’ development in Sta. Cruz isle PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 18 April 2012 13:39

The formal approval of the Sta. Cruz Island development plan by the Department of Tourism and the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority gives the city government the green light to start improvement of the natural tourist attraction.

But Mayor Celso Lobregat emphasized that the development of the Great and Little Sta. Cruz Islands will be a low impact development with the main goal of making the facility a premier site for eco-tourism.

He stressed: “The facility’s takeover, protection and preservation form part of our administration’s initiatives to promote Zamboanga City as a premiere tourist destination with the overriding goal of transforming the site into an “island-ecosystem which includes the landscape, seascape and marine resources that is responsibly and sustainably managed, developed and protected by the local government with the involvement of the community and other stakeholders for the maintenance and preservation of the natural biological, physical diversities of the environment and for ecotourism promotion.”

The results of the Sta. Cruz Island Architectural Design competition, launched April 11 will serve as the starting point for the development of the area. The contest will culminate sometime June.

At least 17 employees to include tourism and environmental officers, community development officers, park rangers among others, will be hired to man the island. Some P20 million has also been reserved for the development project, according to the mayor.

“But the development will not be the Boracay type of development”, the chief executive said stressing that the idea is for visitors to go to the island by the day and in the afternoon return to the mainland and stay in the hotels.

TIEZA has formally turned over and transferred to the city government of Zamboanga the development, management, maintenance and operation of the Great and Little Sta. Cruz Islands protected landscape and seascape, recently.

The formal turnover and transfer of the Sta. Cruz island is pursuant to the memorandum of agreement forged last June 17, 2011 by Department of Tourism, then under the helm of Secretary Alberto Lim, TIEZA, city government, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-9) and the Protected Area and Ecotourism Management Board (PAEMB).

TIEZA Chief Operating Officer Mark Lapid in a letter to Mayor Lobregat dated March 19 said in addition to the Development Plan previously submitted to the DOT and TIEZA, the city government of Zamboanga shall provide the TIEZA 10-year financial projections to assess the viability of the development plan.

The development of infrastructure projects in the islands shall comply with the guidelines stipulated in section 5 of DENR Administrative Order 2009-09, the TIEZA chief operating officer said. “Likewise repair and rehabilitation works of existing facilities shall be directed by the PAEMB jointly chaired by the City Government of Zamboang and DENR”. — Sheila Covarrubias