Oslob rate increase is temporary

Posted on April 5, 2012

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Regional Director Rowena Montecillo of the Department of Tourism said the April 15 rate increase for whale shark tourists is “temporary” until results of an ongoing study by marine experts tapped by the Cebu provincial government is done.

“Initially during the meeting with the Technical Working Committee, the move was to totally ban snorkeling and diving. However, the divers and those offering these services pleaded and suggested charging higher rates instead to make it less accessible to many people,” said Montecillo.

She said Oslob’s Mayor Ronald Gauren informed her that the town already amended its ordinance for the rate increase.

Montecillo said this was not resorted to in order to get more income from Oslob’s new tourist attraction.

“This was really consulted and agreed by everyone, including the local fishermen and the divers in the area,” said Montecillo.

Anticipating big crowds during the Holy Week break, Montecillo said the 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. limit for fishermen guides to handle guests will be strictly followed so that the whale sharks can rest.

“There will be no extensions because we must protect the whale sharks. The fishermen were already told to follow the regulations. Those (visitors) who don’t make it to the cut-off by 1 p.m. will have to just have to go back (for another tour),” said Montecillo.

She said the Oslob municipal government will closely monitor activities. Montecillo added that the local government of Oslob will be closely monitoring the activities in their municipality this Holy Week.

Mayor Guaren stressed that consultations were made before the fee increases were reached.

In a phone interview, he emphasized that it was the divers who suggested the increase.

“It’s as if we are after for the collection but we are not,” he said.

“The original plan is to ban snorkeling or diving because they have the tendency to touch the whale sharks. We cannot control it. We cannot monitor it since there are many of them,” he said in Bisaya.

“Kami gud dili man mi ganahan nga dunay diving ug snorkeling, ni-insist man gyud sila (dive shop operators) nga naa (We do not want to have diving and snorkeling activities but the dive shop operators insisted that this should be allowed),” he told CDN.

He said that no complaints were raised during the series of consultations with dive shop operators. He said they even suggested that the municipality should have an accreditation system for dive shop operators.
 

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