Despite fierce opposition from conservationists, TV network Nickelodeon is pushing ahead with plans for an underwater theme park and resort in Coron, Palawan.
The 1,000-acre development will showcase the area’s marine life as well as allow fans to meet their favourite cartoon characters, such as SpongeBob SquarePants.
Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo said: “The Department of Tourism (DOT) is aware of the planned Coral World Park in Coron. From a tourism perspective, the DOT is excited about the idea because this would attract both local and foreign tourists.”
She also said that the developers — Nickelodeon’s parent company, Viacom International Media Networks, and partner Coral World Park Undersea Resorts Incorporated — had assured her that the project woul not cause damage to the marine ecosystem, particularly the coral reefs.
As we reported in January, the developers said that the park would showcase the area’s marine life and would give fans a chance to “interact with the brand and the iconic characters they love.”
Conservation groups are now preparing to increase efforts to resist the project.
An online campaign has already been launched under the hashtag #CoronIsNotBikiniBottom — a reference to the home of cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants.
Vince Cinches of Greenpeace Southeast Asia said: “It’s sad and alarming because a theme park that big will not promote environmental protection by building those structures.
“Why build a viewing deck when you have the whole paradise to enjoy?”
Ecological groups have long described Palawan as “the last frontier” because of its undeveloped coastlines and forests.
Palawan is home to two UNESCO World Heritage sites, the Puerto Princesa underground river and the world-famous Tubbataha coral reefs.