ALAMINOS CITY—Tourist arrivals at the Hundred Islands National Park here are expected to reach 600,000 this year or a 44% increase over last year’s 450,000 visitors.
Mayor Arthur Celeste is optimistic this target can be achieved. “As of July this year, tourist arrival has reached 420,000 and we might hit our 600,000 target,” he said.
He attributed the improvements in the park’s facilities in the park, discipline among the people, and better service for the increasing number of visitors.
“That means they patronize and accept that our city is one of the most beautiful destinations in Luzon,” he said.
He said his vision for the part are anchored on three thrusts: recreation, religious and educational.
He said on the religious aspect, aside from the pilgrim site in one of the islands where there is a 56-foot Christ’s statue, they are now constructing the Stations of the Cross.
Before the year ends, Celeste said he plans to build a church if the Department of Environment and Natural Resources will permit it.
On the educational aspect, Celeste said all the things one can see in the islands, including 56 species of birds are flying in the area, will be named and identified.
He said bird watching is becoming a popular activity in the island.
He said one will be amazed by the many types of trees that grow on 80 percent limestone and 20 percent soil in the islands.
He said he has signed a memorandum of agreement with the Pangasinan State University for the planting of 1,000 fire trees in two islands. All the trees will be identified by their scientific names.
He also talked proudly about the beautiful corals around the islands and the efforts being done to save them. To date, 35,000 corral fragments have been transplanted over the past three years.
He added there are 26 licensed scuba divers composed of city and other agencies’ employees and the police who rehabilitate weekly the islands.
Task Force Isla was also formed to go after violators of laws, policies and ordinances in the park. (Eva Visperas)