June 24, 2024

A proposed project will pave the way for the creation of an integrated ecotourism complex covering six barangays in the eastern and south-eastern parts of the city. 

These barangays are Country Club Village, Happy Hallow, Atok Trail, Lucnab, Outlook, and Kias, which are situated within one of the few remaining mountainous pine forest covers in the city with the presence of several indigenous peoples communities.

Dubbed as the Country Club Village, Happy Hallow, Atok Trail, Lucnab, Outlook, and Kias (Chalok) Ecopark Communities, the proposed project is aimed at providing an immersion that promotes environmental protection and cultural preservation while helping sustain and improve the livelihood and employment of the people in said areas. It also intends to introduce sustainable development within ancestral domains in said areas.

Presenting the proposed project to the city officials, City Tourism Officer Aloysius Mapalo said the venture will empower the communities in the area through ecotourism.

“There will be no disturbances and developments in these areas as we implement this project. While all developments will take place within the northbound and southbound growth nodes, this project will instead focus on environment and culture preservation,” Mapalo said.

He stressed there will be no road networks and infrastructures to be built within the ecozone. However, two staging areas will be constructed outside and on both ends of the ecozone. 

As ecotourism thrives in these areas, its communities will be empowered and provided employment and livelihood opportunities, he said.

Mapalo added the establishment of the integrated ecozone will attract tourists in these areas, easing congestion in the central business district.

“This may likewise trigger development in neighboring localities particularly Itogon and Tublay,” he said.

Among the ecotourism activities and projects proposed within the ecopark communities are view decks, arts and crafts shops, farm and agri tourism, cultural and country villages, mountain cable cars, eco trails, pocket gardens, camping and glamping, elevated forest walks, and horseback riding.

Mapalo said the City Tourism Office is in active communication with the Department of Tourism for the provision of a grant from the Korea Partnership Initiative for Sustainable Tourism. “With the possible initial grant of $2 million, we can already start with the conduct of the comprehensive technical feasibility study as well as the initial construction stage of the staging areas,” he said. – Jordan G. Habbiling