With nearly a year on, the Tourism Master Development Plan (TDMP) of Bacnotan, La Union is nearing completion. The tourism plan is a flagship project of LaFarge Holcim Philippines with technical support from the Society for the Conservation of Philippine Wetlands. Arch. Aaron Lecciones presented the draft TDMP to the Local Government Unit of Bacnotan, La Union last June 13, 2019. The presentation was attended by Hon. Mayor Francisco Fontanilla, Municipal Councilors, SK Federation President, a consultant on Agritourism of La Union Province, heads and staff of various department of the Municipality, and the SCPW. During the presentation of the draft TDMP for Bacnotan results of several workshops, consultations, field work, and research on tourism were communicated. The concepts, themes, and designs for each tourism cluster of the Municipality were also put forth for discussion. Feedback from the participants about the plan for finalization, and approval by the Sanggunian Bayan (Municipal Council), were also gathered.
Among the issues and concerns raised during the open forum were the extent of involvement of Development Council of the Municipality; problems with the honeybee industry, particularly beekeeping in the town; river encroachment issues; and balancing food production and ecotourism. Fruitful discussions and an exchange of ideas ensued during the event and everyone acknowledged that these issues could be resolved during the detailed implementation plans to be generated. Additionally, open communication, coordination, and participation of various stakeholders and agencies of the local government was emphasized for the successful implantation of the master plan. Some additional suggestions from the participants included increasing the vegetation of the area and strengthening initiatives for environmental conservation and protection and passing the zoning ordinance which is the principal instrument for implementing the Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) of the Municipality and complements the tourism plan. The Municipal Mayor also expressed his desire that the tourism plan be implemented comprehensively – and enjoined the stakeholders – LGU and barangay officials, local communities, and the private sector, to show a strong commitment for the accomplishment of the tourism projects.
To further communicate the contents of the Bacnotan Tourism Development Master Plan in the municipality and beyond, LaFarge Holcim Philippines with the SCPW plans to have a series of talks with the local communities and barangays in and around Bacnotan and with the business and local industries sectors to hone in on investment portfolio strategies, investment and business opportunities, and to instill sustainability aspects of developing tourism activities and tourism establishments in the municipality. Some of the sustainability aspects include tourism product whole life cycle and value chain assessment, fair trade principles, and the ANAHAW Philippine Sustainable Tourism Certification of the Department of Tourism (DOT) for tourism establishments.
The wait is almost over for the municipality – the Bacnotan Tourism Development Master Plan will be reviewed by the Sangguniang Bayan in the coming weeks and the real work begins to make Bacnotan, the tourism paradise in La Union. As next steps, it was settled that the TDMP for Bacnotan, La Union should be approved first through a resolution by the Sanggunian Bayan before presenting to the barangays for launching and for action planning. It is also being targetted to apply for ANAHAW Philippine Sustainable Tourism Certification being issued by the Department of Tourism (DOT) for tourism establishments.