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Puerto Princesa Underground River and Komodo National Park pushed as new 7 wonders PDF Print E-mail
ZAMBOANGA CITY, June 22 (PNA)--The Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-the Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) tourism cluster is strongly backing up the bid of the Puerto Princesa Underground River in Palawan and the Komodo National Park in Indonesia to be among the New Seven Wonders of Nature.

The Puerto Princesa Undergound River in Palawan and Komodo National Park in Indonesia are among the 28 finalists vying for a spot in the search for the world’s new seven wonders of nature, a campaign run by the New Seven Wonders Foundation in partnership with the United Nations (UN).
The campaign aims to discover the seven natural wonders that best represent Earth’s beauty and variety.

At the end of the 7th BIMP-EAGA Joint Tourism Development Cluster Meeting recently held in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, tourism leaders of the sub-region issued a statement of support to Komodo and Underground River as a “gesture of strong partnership within the BIMP-EAGA region in strengthening cooperation for the development of tourism in promoting the same as the center of eco-tourism destination worldwide.”

“We are in agreement that direct and indirect benefits shall be achieved by the member-countries with the Puerto Princesa Underground River, Philippines and the Komodo National Park, Indonesia as winners to the New Seven Wonders of Nature, come 2011,” the participants of the 7th BIMP-EAGA Joint Tourism Development Cluster said in a statement.

“We further commit to protect these God-Given wonder of nature for our people and continuously abide by the rules of cooperation and unity within the framework of BIMP-EAGA objectives,” they added.

The statement was issued and signed by heads of delegation to the 7th East Asean Growth Area Joint Tourism Development Cluster Meeting composed of Hj Mohd Tali Hj Abd Rahman, Senior Officer of Brunei Tourism Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources; Mr. Wardiyatmo, Secretary General of Indonesia Ministry of Culture and Tourism; Abdul Rahman Sebli Bin Senusi, Principal Assistant Secretary of Malaysia Ministry of Tourism and Heritage Sarawak and Undersecretary Oscar Palabyab of the Philippines’ Department of Tourism.

“We have come up with one joint statement to push what we would consider as gift of nature, which you can’t find anywhere else except in Palawan and Indonesia. Vote for it, experience and feel it and then share to others the story about their uniqueness,” Ik Pahon Ak Joyik, Permanent Secretary of Malaysia’s Ministry of Tourism and Heritage and chairman of the EAGA Joint Tourism Development Cluster, said.

The St. Paul Subterranean River in Palawan, known as Puerto Princesa Underground River, is located about 50 kilometers north of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.

It features a limestone karst mountain landscape with an 8.2 kilometers navigable underground river.

It includes major formations of stalactites and stalagmites, and several large chambers.

The Puerto Princesa Underground River is reputed to be the world's longest.

One of the country’s pristine attractions, the Underground River is listed under the World Heritage sites of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), one of the four world heritage sites in BIMP-EAGA primed as a key ecotourism destination.

Indonesia’s Komodo National Park is located in the center of the Indonesian archipelago, between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores.

It includes the three larger islands Komodo, Rinca and Padar, as well as numerous smaller ones, for a total area of 1,817 square kilometers (603 square kilometers of it land).

The national park was founded in 1980 to protect the Komodo dragon.

Later, it was also dedicated to protecting other species, including marine animals.

The islands of the national park are of volcanic origin.

In 1986, the Park was declared a World Heritage Site and a Man and Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, both indications of the Park's biological importance.

Recognizing BIMP-EAGA’s strong potential to be an ecotourism destination given its tourism resources, the EAGA tourism industry has been adopting Community-Based Eco Tourism (CBET) development as a strategy to intensify partnerships among the local governments and communities, as a means for addressing rural poverty.

CBET strategy highlights the important role of eco-tourism as a key to poverty alleviation.

“It is an area where we as a sub-region has a lot to offer. We are now looking at EAGA as an Equator Asia destination, focusing on culture, adventure and nature,” Ik Pahon Ak Joyik said.

Held from June 9-10 this year, the 7th EAGA JTD meeting gathered 127 participants from all across the sub-region’s tourism industry, including representatives from the BIMP EAGA Business Council, BIMP-EAGA Tourism Council, BIMP-EAGA Facilitation Center, Asian Development Bank, German Technical Cooperation, local government units and private sector.

The meeting discussed key major issues and updates on sub-regional efforts to establish EAGA as a key tourism destination in Southeast Asia. (PNA)
LAP/Teofilo P. Garcia/utb
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