Sta. Cruz Islands eyed as premier eco-tourism site-A A +A
By Bong Garcia
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
THE formal approval of the Sta. Cruz Island development plan by the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) gives the City Government the green light to start improvement of the natural tourist attraction.
But Mayor Celso Lobregat said 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.
“The facility’s takeover, protection and preservation form part of our administration’s initiatives to promote Zamboanga City as a premiere tourist destination,” Lobregat said.
The results of the Sta. Cruz Island Architectural Design competition, launched last April 11, will serve as the starting point for the development of the area.
The architectural design contest will culminate in 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, said Lobregat.
He said P20 million has also been reserved for the development project.
“But the development will not be the Boracay-type of development,” Lobregat 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.
The formal turnover and transfer of the Sta. Cruz island is pursuant to the memorandum of agreement forged on June 17, 2011 by DOT, then under the helm of Secretary Alberto Lim, TIEZA, City Government, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Protected Area and Ecotourism Management Board (PAEMB).
TIEZA Chief Operating Officer Mark Lapid in a letter to Lobregat dated March 19 said that 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.
“Likewise the repair and rehabilitation works of existing facilities shall be directed by the PAEMB jointly chaired by the City Government of Zamboang and DENR,” Lapid said.