MANILA — Puerto Galera is projected to lose around P5.3 million daily should it be shut for tourism, after authorities deemed many of its water sites unsafe for swimming activities, Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco said Tuesday.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Health (DOH) earlier in the day reported only 9 sites in the town passed its water quality tests, with no attribution to why the other areas failed.
Over the weekend, Oriental Mindoro Governor Bonz Dolor said that Puerto Galera and its nearby areas failed 4 consecutive water tests. After his statement, hundreds of tourists have already cancelled their bookings and activities in Puerto Galera, its senior tourism officer said.
But Frasco said the "most important" thing right now for her agency is to ensure that the tourism in the town will continue and will become sustainable.
"Our perception of this joint statement is that Puerto Galera tourism continues to be open, and there is no direct attribution in terms of the direct source of the findings considering the presence of human and economic activities in Puerto Galera," Frasco told Palace reporters.
"According to statistics as well, there is projected loss of no less than P5.3 million a day," she added.
"We have all seen the devastation that can be caused by a tourism destination being shut down."
As of Tuesday, Puerto Galera is not among the towns affected by the oil spill, the report from the disaster response agency showed. Frasco said Oriental Mindoro had already recorded P900 million in losses because of the ecological disaster
Around 11,000 tourism workers there depend in the industry there, she noted.
The town, she said, is considered the top destination in Oriental Mindoro as it contributes 85 percent of the tourism economy in the province. As of last year, the town had raked in some P500 million in tourism receipts, she said.
"The report indicating no direct link to the oil spill is something we welcome positively," she added.
More than 178,000 people—or 37,871 families—have been affected by the spill more than a month since sinking of the ill-fated oil tanker in the Tablas Strait.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources earlier said that damage and losses due to the oil spill is nearing the P1-billion mark.
Video from PTV