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Paradise lost as tourists flee Guimaras resorts

August 29, 2006

By Cecil Morella
Agence France-Presse

NAGARAO – Resorts in the Philippines are starting to count the cost from the country’s worst oil spill as tourists shun the blackened beaches of what was once a tiny corner of paradise.

For Helen Stummer, more than 20 years of hard work virtually disappeared overnight when the oil tanker Solar I went down off Guimaras Island more than two weeks ago.

As waves foul-smelling oil started to wash up on the pristine beachfront of the Nagarao resort, her guests packed and left.

“Our investment is totally lost,” sighed Stummer, a Filipina who bought the uninhabited, 10-hectare (25-acre) coral outcrop on the southern edge of the Guimaras Strait with her German husband nearly a quarter-century ago.

Staff of the secluded, family-run tropical island haven valiantly fought back the giant slick with hastily cut down logs, bamboo and wild palm fronds, and the improvised effort managed to keep away most of the sludge.

But to no avail – mass cancellations of reservations have all but wiped out this year’s tourist season and most of next year’s.

“We are not talking about today and tomorrow,” she said of the crisis facing her and other island resort owners. “We are talking about years to come.”

The Nagarao has built a cult following among northern Europeans who flee the continent’s harsh winters.

(Click INQ7.net for the full story. Published Aug. 29, 2006)

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OH don’t worry Mrs. Stummer, the tourists will be back. After all the Arroyo government has now decided to call the environmental disaster “Solar I oil spill”, not “Guimaras oil spill.” Who are these jokers in Malacañang? Get a grip already!

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