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DavSur town bears impact of climate change on tourism, welfare of residents

DAVAO DEL SUR — The tourism industry in the town of Sta. Cruz is significantly impacted by climate change, according to its tourism officer, Julius Paner.

He said that while Sta. Cruz has been preparing for the expected long dry spell, continuous rainfall has been the unexpected outcome.

Paner highlighted that the tourism industry continues to flourish in Sta. Cruz due to its fair weather, noting that “El Niño mitigation programs have been prepared in advance to prevent wildfires in the event of no rain for a month. Failure to do so would result in the closure of Mt. Apo to climbers, causing an impact on the tourism industry.”

He noted that despite the Covid-19 pandemic, a considerable increase in tourist arrivals (11 percent) occurred in 2023 when the region experienced an increase in tourist arrivals, with Mt. Apo hosting 5,000 climbers, Mt. Loay hosting 3,720 climbers, Mt. Denor hosting 4,118 climbers, Bamboo Peak hosting 3,369 climbers, and Marine Waterfalls averaging 2,000 visitors.

He said that the shear line weather experienced in mid-January resulted in the displacement of 24 families residing in Barangay Astorga in Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur.

In contrast, the Disaster Response, Monitoring, and Information Center of the Department of Social Welfare and Development-Davao Region (DSWD-Davao) said heavy rains caused by the shear line affected 44,888 families in the provinces of Davao del Norte, Davao de Oro, Davao Oriental, Davao Occidental, and Davao City.

“Fortunately, only 24 families were evacuated in Sta. Cruz, and the local government provided their needs, such as food,” Paner said.

He said that Barangays Inawayan and Astorga were significantly affected by the shear line, and forceful evacuation was carried out in Barangay Astorga to ensure the safety of families in adherence to disaster preparedness and mitigation.

Paner said the government's long-term plan is to pull out residents from landslide-prone areas; however, big landslides have never occurred in Sta. Cruz.

He said the community-based monitoring system is employed to inform the local government of any impending danger, such as floods or landslides.

“In case of any danger, classes at all levels are immediately suspended to prevent problems affecting children in schools,” he said, adding that the response units are activated and monitored by the local government.

He pointed out that the local government unit of Sta. Cruz is investing in a comprehensive warning system over the next three months.

Paner said the warning system will have homing devices attached to flood- and landslide-prone areas to convey the real-time scenario of any impending danger.

“Cameras will be installed on the shoreline of Sta. Cruz and monitoring equipment will be directly attached to the monitoring system of the local government unit,” he said. PIA DAVAO

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