MANILA-- Trying to do away with the usual image of Metro Manila as a corporate jungle, the Department of Tourism (DOT) vowed to strengthen its efforts to promote the Las Pinas-Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA), a wetland in the highly urbanized Paranaque City, as a prime destination for nature-loving tourists and foreign birdwatchers.
"This is a breathing space inside the metro so it's good because in a year, LPPCHEA has around 5,000 visitors and we want to increase that further," DOT-National Capital Region (NCR) Woodrow Maquiling said on Saturday.
"Our approach should be sustainable. In the midst of all these corporate jungles and all of these buildings, we have to have something like this in Metro Manila," he added.
Maquiling said the DOT will coordinate with tour operators to include the destination in their NCR itinerary.
"We have cruise tourism here in the country bringing as much as 2,500 per ship so what we want to do is to also take them here," he said.
Maquiling was among the guest speakers for the World Migratory Bird Day celebration organized by the Society for the Conservation of Philippine Wetlands at the LPPCHEA.
Highlighting the occasion, the official believes LPPCHEA has a big potential to attract foreigners specifically the growing Chinese tourists in the Philippines.
"Chinese is one good source for bird watching," he told the Philippine News Agency in an interview.
"Right now, our top source market for the bird watchers are the Europeans. The Tourism Promotions Board wants to push for the catalog of all migratory birds here because in LPPCHEA we have 84 species."
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LPPCHEA, a 175-hectare wetland off Manila Bay, had been declared as critical habitat on April 22, 2007, under Presidential Proclamation No.1412.
Since then, through cooperation with the local government unit, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-National Capital Region was able to preserve what they cannily tag as the "last natural bastion" in Metro Manila.
Soon to rise inside the park is the LPPCHEA Wetland Center which will house a museum and a spacious lounge for tourists. No entrance fee is collected in LPPCHEA but a permit from the DENR office, which can be easily obtained, is required upon the park's entry. (PNA)