Siargao Island losing tourist visitors due to high fees, says Tourism Council prexy

Surigao Del Norte (9 August) -- The island of Siargao is losing the would-be visitors because of its high fees of tourism activities in the surfing capital.

Newly inducted president of Provincial Tourism and Development Council (PTDC) Johann Jake Miranda said he received a number of complaints by some resort owners regarding the unregulated fees of tourism activities such as pump boat, van, tricycle, and habal-habal rentals in the island.

"There have been a number of complaints of the local and foreign tourists regarding these exorbitant fees."

At present, van rentals in Siargao cost P500, tricycle rental is P250, P30 each riding individually in tricycles and P200/person for habal-habal motorcycle.

Miranda said that resort owners were also dismayed because some of their fellow resort owners are paying commissions to van drivers who will bring guests to their resorts. "It's an unfair practice because not all of them can afford to give that kind of commission."

According to Miranda, there's also a report from some resort owners that "some homes in Gen. Luna accept lodgers which should not be allowed since their homes are not accredited by the Department of Tourism and it robs the accredited inns and resorts in the business." Miranda emphasized that the municipality of Gen. Luna does not have a home stay program because there are "sufficient number of resorts in the town to accommodate these tourists."

Miranda also revealed the exorbitant fees in going to the famous Sohoton Cove that discourages the local and foreign tourists.

"You have to rent a boat for P500 and on that boat you have to pay the guides which are at the minimum of two (2) guides per boat at P165/person. There's also this silly fee that if you want to dive in that lagoon where the non-toxic jellyfish is located, you'd have to pay P100/person for a dip in that lagoon," said Miranda.

"All in all, a group of four or six tourists going to Sohoton will first pay for the boat rental from Gen. Luna to Sohoton which should only be charged with P4,000 but some resorts charged about P6,000 to P8,000 just to go there," he added.

According to Miranda on average for a group of four to six tourists, they will have to shell out P2,000/person, "which for a lot of tourists, they find it very exorbitant? very expensive."

Miranda said that Sohoton Cove being such an enchanting place losses its luster and appeal because of these fees by some local entrepreneurs and has so far become unregulated by the government.

Tourism council action

"We now have a plan to establish a uniform rates, aside from that, the resort owners would also like to establish the uniform rates for the popular 3-island tour, which is the island tour of Guyam, Daku island and Naked island to be pegged at only P1,500," said Miranda who now heads the re-organized PTDC and currently the outgoing President of the Surigao Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI).

"For a trip to Guyam itself, it should only be P500," Miranda added.

In anticipation of the influx of tourist arrivals in the island, Miranda also revealed that they are now planning to post the tariff rates right at the port of Dapa and in Gen. Luna, "so that everyone will get informed and that there will be no haggling of fees."

With these regularization and uniformity of fees, Miranda is hopeful that it will definitely help both the resort owners and the tourists in the island.

As for the problem in Sohoton, Miranda said there's now a proposal to dismantle these local entrepreneurs currently operating in the area. "We'll have to talk to the LGU (Socorro) and the barangay captain and if they failed to address the problem or regulate the fees, we have the mandate to dismantle these groups who are apparently creating a cartel there." (PIA-Surigao del Norte)
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