Incentive Funds Enhance Tourism at World Heritage Park’s Host Town

SAN ISIDRO, DAVAO ORIENTAL – The once sleepy town of San Isidro is now reaping the benefits of the implemented government projects funded under the Performance Challenge Fund (PCF), creating a chain reaction that has positively been impacting the lives of the locals here.

The PCF, an incentive given to Local Government Units who passed the Department of Interior and Local Government’s Seal of Good Local Governance, has played a big role in putting up complementing features and attractions in the park that has been drawing tourists since its opening in 2016, says local officials here.

For being a seal passer for the year 2013 and 2014, the Provincial Government, then led by Former Governor now First District Representative Corazon N. Malanyaon, decided to lump the two-years’ worth incentive amounting to P14 million for the construction of additional amenities and facilities to the province’s banner tourism site – the Mount Hamiguitan World Heritage Park.

These amenities include recreational facilities such as hanging bridge, ticket booth, additional comfort rooms, souvenir shop, and rotunda, which complements the already thriving world heritage park.

LOCAL INITIATIVES

San Isidro Mayor Justina Yu said that the PCF being utilized for the development of additional facilities at the Provincial Government-initiated World Heritage Park and the successful inscription of the Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary to the UNESCO World Heritage List and the ASEAN Heritage List have collectively paved way for a myriad of developments here wherein locals are benefitting on the town’s shared prosperity.

San Isidro Mayor Justina Yu

Host to a world-famous mountain, the town has been seeing a huge turnout of tourists visiting the park and the world-class Natural Science Museum with well-curated exhibits representing the mountain’s rich flora and fauna. In 2017, the Municipal Tourism Office recorded 256,000 tourist arrivals, of which, ten percent are foreign visitors.

Yu said that the success of the park has inspired the local government to explore other opportunities that would boost local tourism. In 2016, the municipal government opened a hotel to accommodate guests. She also said that they have also collaborated with homestay owners to augment the need for lodging facilities. On February of this year, the municipal government will start the construction of its second hotel, a two-story building to house the town’s growing number of tourists. She said this will become another income-generating source for the town. Aside from the hotel, the local government also boasts of a convention center and a pasalubong center, which are other revenue generators for the town.

PCF Press Briefing held at the Mount Hamigutian Natural Science Museum on January 22, 2018

With an Internal Revenue Allotment of slightly over P100 million, the local government of San Isidro pushes for more income-generating schemes leveraging on its rich natural sites from its ridges to lush mountains, said Mayor Yu.

Meanwhile, after years of restricting tourists from climbing the Mount Hamigutian which is a protected area, the municipal government has now opened the world-famous mountain to trekkers, however enforcing strict environmental policies in the bid to protect Davao Oriental’s “treasured jewel”.

The LGU has enforced strict regulations to protect the environs of the world heritage site. Based on their regulation, 60 tourists are only allowed to hike the mountain per week, with only a maximum of 30 persons per trek.

For the climbers, a fee of P 3,000 will be collected per person plus additional P500 for the porter and another P500 for the “bantay-gubat” (forest guard). With the bulk of the collection going to the forest protection, portion of the fees will also go to the Indigenous People’s Community, the three local government units of San Isidro, Governor Generoso, and the City of Mati who share portions of the mountain; and the Provincial Government.

A three-day journey going to the peak, climbers can take time to enjoy and explore the mountain’s beautiful spots as they traverse the trail: these include the pygmy forest, the Tinagong Dagat, Twin Falls, the black mountain, and the endemic wildlife and rich biodiversity that the mountain boasts.

With all these developments, the local government says these have significantly impacted the lives of the locals as they bring livelihood opportunities especially to the transport, agriculture, and fishery sector.

REWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN GOVERNANCE

Tagged as a champion province, Davao Oriental landed as top 5 among the consistent SGLG passers in the country, revealed DILG Provincial Director Yvette T. Sunga. She attributed this feat to the strong governance already laid in place by the previous leadership and is being sustained and strengthened by the present administration of Governor Nelson L. Dayanghirang.

DILG Provincial Director Yvette T. Sunga

“It is something that we should really be proud about,” Sunga said, adding that for 2017 Davao Oriental has the most number of LGU-passers in the entire region eleven.

The PCF, she said, has been an effective strategy in motivating LGUs to exercise their mandate of pursuing their duties and responsibilities for excellence in governance.

Moreover, the PCF is the government’s way of contributing to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, which primarily targets poverty reduction.  It also supports the Ambisyon Natin and Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 under the Duterte administration.

“These projects are the result of the good performance of the Local Government Units”, says DILG Provincial Director Yvette T. Sunga. By Karen Lou Deloso/Photo by Eden Jhan Licayan

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