MANILA – Around 750 kilos of garbage comprising of plastic bottles, plastic bags, styrofoams, and aluminum snack packagings were collected in a coastal clean-up spearheaded by the local government officials, marine biology experts, and tourism stakeholders in partnership with AirAsia Philippines and over 300 volunteers from different walks of life at the 3-kilometer stretch of the Doljo beach and Mangrove area in the western part of the island of Panglao in Bohol.
All looking forward to a “better normal”, volunteers from various hotels, restaurants, celebrities, diving schools and different civic organizations held their garbage bags and happily joined the coastal clean-up while also observing strict health protocols. The amount of garbage collected during the 3-hour activity only showed that there is still more to do if we are to protect the environment.
A total of 35 artificial coral beds that cover 560 square feet of the Doljo Marine Sanctuary were also planted with live and recently grown corals. 200 dive-volunteers transferred corals to different coral beds at the Doljo Marine Sanctuary.
The dive-volunteers also cleared the beds of Crown-of-Thorns Starfish, which are a prime cause of coral loss. The activity which lasted for 2 hours successfully relocated recovering corals to their new hosts. Once mature enough, the corals will be transferred to deeper locations such as Balicasag island.
The two-day environmental conservation activities in Panglao is part of a concerted effort to prepare the tourism haven for a strong rebound especially now that leisure travel is allowed.
AirAsia Philippines partnered with celebrities Tim Yap, Daniel Matsunaga, Markii Stroem and Marie Lozano who share the same advocacy for the protection of the environment.
For AirAsia Philippines, the activity not only underscores the importance of protecting our environment, but also sends a strong message of creating sustainable tourism that can be enjoyed responsibly.
AirAsia Spokesperson Steve Dailisan said, “We at AirAsia are looking at a better normal post pandemic. Having said that, we would like to use our platform to encourage our guests to become responsible travelers. By participating in environmental conservation activities, we would like to emphasize that protecting our environment is now part of a new and better normal. Being responsible extends to your destination. You are not just there to enjoy the sights, but also take an active role in protecting and preserving the environment.”
Meanwhile, Department of Tourism Region 7 Director Shahlimar Hofer Tamano said, “ The pandemic has turned travelers into instant nature lovers. We hope their time at home allows them to reflect on what is essential, especially for the environment.
“Activities such as the coastal clean-up and coral reef rescue creates awareness and curiosity amongst tourists especially now that people would prefer going out and enjoying nature tripping rather than socialize in an enclosed room. This is the right time to engage them and make them responsible travelers,” Tamano added.
Panglao is home to the best diving sites in the world with Balicasag, Pamilacan, Alona and Cabilao topping the list.
Panglao Tourism Office however noted that in 2013, a coastal research assessment revealed that less than 10% of the Doljo sea which serves as the main hub to all the diving spots, is covered with corals. Disturbances like poaching and discharges from different establishments affected the growth of the corals. The coral reef rescue and restoration which started in 2014 managed to populate the coral bed. As of 2020, 70% of the Doljo sea is now covered with corals.
The local government of Panglao said it is also important to regulate and manage activities in the area to facilitate sustainable growth of the new corals. As soon as the new corals grow, species of fishes will be attracted to form new colonies, thereby increasing fish densities and attracting more tourists as well.
“We at AirAsia believe that protecting our environment is a year-round activity and not just a monthly celebration. We are #AlwaysREDy to take the initiative and encourage others to do so. It is our shared moral obligation with the local government, hotel and restaurant owners, tour and activity operators and the residents of Bohol to show concern not only to the ocean but to the whole ecosystem for sustainability. In doing so, we hope that we are also able to send a strong message to tourists that Panglao is now tourism ready”, Dailisan added.
AirAsia flies to Bohol via Panglao Airport 4x weekly. Be a responsible traveler and book now via airasia super app or airasia.com
Dive instructor Danilo Menorias gives a short briefing to the volunteers on how to properly plant the corals in the coral beds
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