With extensive promotion and backing of experts, the town of Burauen, Leyte is off to a good start in its goal to market the area as the spring capital of Leyte.
The local government has been consulting with industry experts on how to develop the town’s eco-tourism sites in a sustainable manner.
Among them are former actress and UN Sustainable Development Goals Advocate Antoinette Taus, former Tourism Secretary Mina Gabor, and Asean Center for Biodiversity Director Mundita Lim.
In an interview with Philippine News Agency, town Mayor Juanito Renomeron said with the limitations of the local government, they have been seeking assistance from experts and advocates on how to carry out the Burauen Eco-tourism and Sustainable Tourism (BEST) project.
“We are embarking into something new to us, yet we are aware that this is something that will help improve our economy. We have to recognize the need to develop tourism as a way to improve the lives of people,” Renomeron said.
The mayor noted that many tourists have been coming to their town to visit cold spring resorts especially during sunny days, but a lot of work has to be done to develop nature tourism.
“The town has many areas potential for eco-tourism since we are gifted with a lot of cold springs. We hired a team of consultants to help us our effort in the next two years,” he added.
The team is headed by Joselito Costas, founder of Grassroots Travel, the group behind the development and promotion of Bojo River in Aloguinsan, Cebu.
On August 2, experts came to the town for the first-ever tourism summit to share market development, heritage, civil society and private sector partnership, farm tourism, and conservation. Joining the summit are village officials, leaders of people’s organization, and investors.
Taus said these efforts make Burauen town ahead of other local government units in the country especially that sustainability is in the heart of the program.
“With eco-tourism, visitors are looking for new and exciting places and they want to connect with nature. We are here to support and we’ll be coming again to experience tourism first hand,” she said.
Lim, meanwhile, said through sustainable tourism and promotion efforts, more people would be interested to see what’s unique in the mountains of Leyte.
“This is a very good step forward for everyone to recognize that they will be able to see something different in the heart of Leyte. We are happy to work with Burauen to strengthen sustainable tourism activities and protect Burauen’s biodiversity,” Lim told summit participants.
Gabor, in her message, lauded the local government for allowing local stores instead of big chains to flourish.
“I was touched to see stores selling local products unique in Burauen. Tourists will come here not to buy souvenirs and taste the food available in big cities, but to get something that they have not seen in other places,” she said.
Renomeron said the local government initially identified eco-tourism sites in the villages of Matin-ao, Tambis, Villa Rosas, Abuyogon, Cansiboy, and Kagbana.
These areas are seen as an addition to Mahagnao Volcano Natural Park, a site proclaimed as a national park in 1937. The site is endowed with other natural attractions – a lake, falls, multi-colored mud, virgin forests, and lagoon. Mahagnao, which has been drawing nature-loving tourists, is 18 kilometers away from the town center of Burauen.
Burauen is derived from the word “Burabod” which means “spring”.
The town is known as the fountainhead of several rivers – the big Daguitan and Marabong rivers, the Guinarona and Hibuga rivers that pass through several neighboring towns, as well as several smaller ones.
The town, with a land area of over 30,000 hectares divided into 77 villages, has its own water system.
From Tacloban City, where the airport is located, the site is an hour trip by land through a 50-kilometer trip. The town is situated in the central part of Leyte Island by two cities and eight towns. (Sarwell Meniano and Roel Amazona/Philippine News Agency)
Top photo: The Lake Malagsum within the Mahagnao Volcano Natural Park in Burauen, Leyte, one the natural tourism assets in this town. The local government is counting on springs to develop its local tourism industry. (Photo courtesy of Burauen local government)