World-class tourist destination to rise in Mt. Arayat National Park

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A NEW world-class eco-tourist destination will soon rise in Central Luzon, officials from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) here announced recently.

The 10-hectare San Juan Baño recreational facility at the foot of the fabled Mt. Arayat National Park in Pampanga will undergo major renovation and rehabilitation under a public-private sector partnership scheme proposed by the local government of Arayat, revealed Maximo Dichoso, executive director of DENR regional office here.

“Developing Mt. Arayat into a major ecotourism area will not only provide additional livelihood to the host communities but will also help advocate the need for greater public participation in the protection and conservation of Mt. Arayat as Central Luzon’s natural legacy and important landmark,” he explained.

Dichoso confirmed that the DENR is now finalizing a Co-management Agreement with Arayat Mayor Emmanuel Alejandrino that will allow the local government to take over the development and rehabilitation of the park’s resort area through public offering to prospective tourism developers and operators in a public bidding.

The Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) chaired by the DENR unanimously approved a resolution that will allow the local government of Arayat to formally takeover the operations of the San Juan Bano resort.

The recreational area will undergo a long-term development, taking into consideration the biophysical and ecological requirements of the park, beginning with a reforestation program.

Proposed major tourism facilities to rise in the park would include a world-class hotel, lodges, spa, swimming pools, sports facilities, and restaurants.

To recall, the DENR and the local government of Arayat agreed in December 2000 to turn over the operations of the San Juan Baño recreational area to the Department of Tourism -Philippine Tourism Authority (DOT-PTA) to boost the tourism potential of the park pursuant to the provisions of R.A 7690 declaring the Arayat National Park as a tourist spot.

The Mt. Arayat National Park was declared a protected area under Proclamation No. 203 with a total area of 3,715 hectares, 10 hectares of which had been set aside for development as a recreational facility where the San Juan Bano resort now sits.

DENR studies showed that the fabled Mt. Arayat is home to 49 species of trees and plants; 86 species of wild birds; 14 species of mammals; and 11 species of reptiles.

Under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Law, anyone who is found hunting or destroying plants or animals or products from a protected area, among other things, face imprisonment of up to six years or fine of up to P500,000.