MARIPIPI, Biliran – After almost a year, the main tourist destination of this island town has reopened for tourists.
Mayor Joseph Caingcoy led in welcoming the guests to Sambawan Island beach resort on April 23, saying the move was part of their campaign to help revive its local economy hit by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
“The decision to reopen Sambawan is part of our plan to improve our local economic enterprise,” the town mayor said.
“Revitalizing the local economic enterprise will help us create more revenue generating business,” he added.
While Maripipi has several natural attractions to offer to tourists, Sambawan that is located around five kilometers from the western coast of the island town is their prime tourist destination, not only of the municipality but the province of Biliran as well.
The local government unit will manage the operation of the beach resort after the contract with the developer was terminated.
“For our future plans, the LGU is planning to invest more development in the island especially in the infrastructure aspect, like the cottages, benches, (and) canteen. We have a budget but it is not enough, “he said.
Providing 24-hour power in the island and constructing water reservoir are among the immediate plans for the operation of the island.
At present, the LGU only allows day tour for the island and does not encourage overnight stay due to problem on electricity and water supply.
The day tour is only open for regional tourists at present as the municipal government is still studying protocols that needs to be impose for allowing domestic and foreign tourists.
“We’re hoping that the provincial government and the Department of Tourism can help us to have access for funds for this projects,”Caingcoy said.
As part of the LGU handling the famed tourists’ destination in Biliran province, Mayor Caingcoy said that on top of the existing municipal tourism council, they had created the Sambawan Management Tourism Committee which will oversee and monitor the operation in the island.
Sambawan, an island with semi-curved beach and declared a marine sanctuary, is not only good for swimming and trekking to the highest peak of the island where a view deck that offers for 360 degrees and picturesque view of the island but also has areas good for scuba diving.
To encourage more tourists to visit the island, Mayor Caingcoy disclosed that they are studying the proposal to offer additional activities such as sports fishing.
Moreover, as part of promoting Sambawan and revitalizing tourism activity in Biliran province, the provincial tourism office has offered to travel and tour operators a package which, aside from visiting the island, tourists will also have to experience the cold and refreshing water of the famous Ulan-ulan waterfalls in Almeria town.
All visitors on the island are mandated to follow all the health protocols amid the continuing threat of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Also part of the requirements is to apply for the Biliran QR code which takes around three days to process after submitting the online registration form.
Tourists from Samar are even they are closer to Sambawan will have to go to the Biliran border checkpoint located after the Biliran bridge for the QR code check and filling up of the Tourist Arrival Force at the tourist assistance booth located near the border checkpoint.
After filling up the form, tourists will be directed to go immediately at the Kawayan port where motorboat will bring them to the Maripipi Municipal Tourism Office located at the municipal port for them to register and pay fees that cost about P100 before they can enter Sambawan.
Those who did not register will not be allowed to enter the island.
(ROEL T. AMAZONA)