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Ormoc Chamber takes another step for Lake Danao’s dev’t

Ormoc City – The Ormoc City Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCCI) continues with its efforts to develop and promote Lake Danao as the prime tourist destination in the city, as indicated in a survey done around five years ago by its German-funded partner, AFOS.
In a one-day planning workshop recently, stakeholders of the planned development brainstormed on how to attract tourists to the lake and increase tourist arrivals in the city. Tackled were ways to promote it to both the local and foreign market.
The planning workshop was attended by representatives of the chamber, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Energy Development Corporation (EDC), Protected Area Management Board (PAMB), AFOS, City Tourism Office, Lake Danao Barangay officials, Ormoc City Travel and Tours Operators Association (OCTTA) and BOGSAY, a group of trained tour guides.
At the end of the day, the stakeholders agreed to promote Lake Danao as the biggest and coolest protected lake – the ultimate place to experience nature. Devised were several measures to carry out this campaign and divided into four categories: promotions, conservation, eco-tourism products, and management.
For promotion, it was decided to include the lake in tour packages, advertising it in tri-media, constructing billboards, and use the internet through a webpage on the lake. Tourism events were also planned to happen at the lake, coupled with photography contests.
OCTTA president James Kruska disclosed that they have been promoting the lake already. In fact, he said, they have included it already in their tour packages.
Kruska underscored that they have seek the help of the Department of Tourism (DOT) for more promotion activities. However, the DENR representative stressed that promotion of PAMB areas should be spearheaded by their office because their role is misunderstood, like what was reported in a local magazine here. PAMB areas, the DENR said, are “protected” hence no development can be done without their imprimatur.
Furthermore, on the conservation aspect, the PAMB should be the one spearheading advocacies on protecting the lake, promoting agro-forestry, and solid waste management.
On the management side, the newly formed “tourist police” will maintain peace and order in the area. To regulate entrants, a boom gate should be put up and an “Eco-tourism Conservation Fund” to be collected from visitors to finance the maintenance of the protected area.
With these guidepost in place, the participants hoped that community-based tourism program will jumpstart. If everything is in place, they project this will boost tourist arrival to around 4,000 per month, domestic and international. The optimistic figure is a four-fold increase from this year’s statistic of the lake getting an average 1,000 tourists per month.
To recall, the chamber and its partner organizations have been developing and promoting Lake Danao as the centerpiece of tourism in the city. Yet, because it is a protected area, infrastructure development in the area is regulated without DENR and PAMB’s consent.
The City Government of Ormoc also has a 20-year development contract over the Lake, granted seven years ago, but the city has only started moving on it after the 2010 elections, when news that Cong. Lucy Torres-Gomez wanted to put a floating pavilion cum activity center in the area. Because of many obstacles, the congresswoman has decided to divert the funds to developing a tourism center in Palompon town and improving its existing tourist spots like Kalanggaman Island and the boardwalk at Tabuk Island.
If Lake Danao was identified as Ormoc’s crown jewel of its tourism program, Leyte Province, on the other hand, has identified Kalanggaman Island as its counterpart. By Niño Antonio Villalino with a backgrounder from LMJ

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