Philippines: Oil spill impacts tourism in Pola as tourists cancel reservations

 Friday, March 10, 2023 


The oil spill just off the coastline in a Philippine province known for world-class beaches and diving is hurting the business of resorts in situated in that region, as tourists cancel reservations during what is supposed to be peak season.

Officials are trying to retrieve a tanker carrying 800,000 litres (211,338 gallons) of industrial fuel oil when it sank off the coast of Oriental Mindoro province on Feb. 28 due to engine issues in strong seas.

“We are saddened because all the tourists that booked us for the summer season and the upcoming Holy Week have already cancelled,” Reuters news agency quoted Marino Enriquez, a resort manager in the town of Pola, as saying.

“The effect is very extensive because there are no visitors arriving for vacation or to unwind, nobody is renting our cottages because of restrictions on swimming, there is nobody checking in since there is a stench, and the sand is filled with oil,” said resort caretaker Rocela Lasac.

Volunteers have had to endure terrible fumes and use buckets to clean up beaches that have been discoloured by the leak, which experts say threatens 36,000 hectares (88,958 acres) of coral reef, mangroves, and seagrass. Swimming and fishing have been prohibited in the affected region.

Authorities estimate that restoring the beaches to their previous pristine splendour would take many months while the cleanup is ongoing.

Activists were also concerned about the oil spill’s possible impact on marine life and fishermen’s livelihoods.

“The marine protected areas where the fish lay eggs, if those are destroyed we will lose the fish reserve in our ocean,” Earth Island campaign manager and analyst Robert Medrano said.

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