CEBU CITY – Asturias town in western Cebu is banking on its eco-tourism attractions for its economic recovery amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.
With the province already under a more relaxed community quarantine, Asturias town has started showcasing its marine tourism Cruise, dolphin watching and other ecotourism attractions.
Asturias Mayor Antonio Pintor said the town may be a latecomer in the tourism industry, but the municipality has a lot to offer.
With the reopening of tourism activities in the province, the town’s initial offering will be the marine tourism cruise and the dolphin watching in partnership with the People’s Organization of Fishermen and the Asturias Beach House, a local resort in Barangay Owak owned by the late Vice Mayor Alan Adlawan.
Owak Barangay Captain John Carl Dupal-ag said at least 45 fishermen have been tapped for the cruise and the dolphin watching activities.
“We officially started this when the Cebu province was placed under MGCQ (modified general community quarantine), although we had dry runs done in the past to make sure that we can cater to the tourists well and give them a great experience,” said Dupal-ag.
The Marine Tourism Cruise showcases three spots, including the Coral Garden in Barangay Owak, the heritage sites in Barangay Looc which are the sea markers Balisang Taas and Balisang Pungkol, and the old mangrove specie present in Barangays San Roque and Langub.
“They can do snorkeling and kayaking in these areas for only P1,500 per trip maximum of 10 in the group,” said Dupal-ag.
For dolphin-watching, tourists only pay P150 per head and maximum of 10 in one motorized boat that will take them to the Tanon Strait where the dolphins are fed in groups.
Tourists can book through the website of Asturias Beach House.
Pintor said they hope to see more tourism activities in their municipality to create more livelihood for his constituents and generate more income for the local government.
“This is just the first offering and it has already helped our fisherfolks. Hopefully as we develop more of our ecotourism spots, we can help more of our people here through jobs,” the mayor said.
Pintor admitted that Asturias is not yet known for tourism in Cebu but the town actually has the biggest lake in the province that transcends two barangays called Buswang Lake in Barangay Bago and Sta. Rita.
“There are fish cages there now and a boardwalk and surprisingly we have seen tourists already visiting since the province opened tourism activities to the locals. Soon we will have ziplines and other activities in that area,” the mayor said.
Aside from the lake, Asturias is also blessed with caves and natural springs including a hot spring in Barangay San Roque.
Pintor said they will develop these attractions because they see its potential in driving economic activities in the locality.
“We would also hopefully see more private sectors here investing in resorts, for one the Asturias Farms, which operates huge swine farm here as well as a modern slaughterhouse has already expressed interest in investing in a resort-type facility here and we will support that because it drives growth and creates livelihood,” said Pintor.