MANILA-- The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Thursday vowed to maintain sustainable tourism and other environmental practices in Mt. Apo as it has yet to fully recover from the damage brought by a forest fire March last year.
It may be recalled that Mt. Apo reopened last April 12 following the decision of the Mt. Apo National Park Board composed of around 70 stakeholders, including non-government organizations, local government units, agencies and other concerned offices.
Environmental groups were against this move, stressing that the mountain needed more time to recover from the damage it acquired. However, the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) assured that stricter trekking regulations would be observed.
In a press statement, DOT-XI Regional Director Robbie Alabado said that the agency will continue to monitor the area and ensure that biodiversity is sustained.
The agency will also continue to actively promote tourism in the area as long as tourism principles are persistent.
He said that reopening the mountain would boost tourism and provide livelihood to locals and indigenous group.
The number of trekkers and trails leading to the mountain will be limited to avoid putting a strain on Mt. Apo.
PAMB has limited the number of trekkers to 50 per entry point to ensure the preservation of the mountain. All the violators will pay a penalty of PHP2,000 for any violations.
Moreover, not all trails are opened. To date, only the Kidapawan trail was been reopened.
Permit fees also rose to PHP2,000 and PHP2,500 for standard and peak season where a refresher course will be included. Previous collections ranged from PHP1,000 to PHP1,500. On top of the permit fees, the hikers will pay an additional exit fees of PHP1,000 and PHP1,500.
Source: Philippines News Agency