By Marisol Bo-oc, Helen Castaño | 04:18 PM August 04, 2022
Netizens were surprised that the Virgin Island in Panglao is back to its former beauty following the local government’s decision to suspend indefinitely all tourism-related activities starting August 3.
“Finally, a clean island! While we support tourism activities that benefit local communities, they should not be made at the expense of the environment,” said Ivan Anthony Henares on Facebook.
Henares is a tourism educator, cultural policy researcher, and advocate for heritage conservation in the Philippines.
“Sa mainland nalang kayo magbenta ng pagkain. White sand ang habol ng tao sa Virgin Island. Hindi sila pumupunta sa island para kumain sa talipapa,” he added.
(Only sell food on the mainland. People come to the Virgin Island for its white sand. They don’t come to the island to eat in the market.)
“The new look of Virgin Island, Panglao, Bohol. No more structures. Lalong gumanda!,” said Wow Bohol Travel and Tours.
The municipal government of Panglao town has prohibited food vendors and other tourism activities on Wednesday, Panglao Mayor Boy Arcay.
He said” Virgin Island is only for sightseeing.”
However, visitors can still visit the sandbar, located a few meters off the coasts of Panglao, for sightseeing.
“Adunay immediate closure sa maong isla sa food vendors og uban tourism activities effective August 3, 2022. Magpadayon gihapon ang island-hopping operations limitado lang sa sightseeing,” Arcay said on his Facebook page.
He said announced that their local government approved the recommendations raised during an emergency meeting last Tuesday, August 2, 2022, with the local Department of Interior and Local Government and Municipal Tourism Council, to discuss reports on alleged overpricing of food being sold to visitors of Virgin Island.
“Adunay plano nga maghimo og “street food or night market” para paningkamotan nga mahatagan og alternative area of business ang displaced vendors nga di sila ma wad-an og panginabuhi. Sa samang higayon, I regulate og montior na sa LGU ang presyo sa baligya sa vendors,” he said.
Gov. Aris Aumentado supported the order of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to close the sandbar.
A complaint went viral online showing a bill of P26,100 for meals for a group of 13 people who had lunch at Virgin Island.