• ‘Sea connectivity to enhance SEAsia tourism’

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    EXPANDING connectivity between ports in the Southern Philippines and Indonesia with the recent inauguration of the Davao-General Santos-Bitung, Indonesia shipping route will open links for tourism and trade to countries such as Brunei and Malaysia, Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo said on Tuesday.

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    On April 30, President Rodrigo Duterte hosted Indonesian President Joko Widodo at the inauguration of the roll-on-roll-off (RoRo) shipping route, which links the seaports of Davao City and Gen. Santos City to Bitung, Indonesia.

    “After launching the RoRo trips between the Davao and Gen. Santos City seaports and Bitung, Indonesia, RoRo trips between Mindanao and Palawan seaports and those of Malaysia and Brunei will follow,” Teo said.

    “Creating a network of sea routes between the country’s sea gateways and those of Asian neighbors is a must to boost up the country’s tourism,” she added. “Linking the seaports of Mindanao and Palawan with those of Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei will boost the tourism exchange and cruise ship industry, as well as trade and maritime relations between the Southeast Asian nations.”

    The new shipping route, which is within the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), is the Philippine government’s maiden accomplishment under its Asean chairmanship this year.

    Teo also said that the Duterte administration has mapped out plans for joint naval operations with Indonesia and Malaysia to secure the maritime borders to protect the RoRo vessels and cruise ship passengers.

    In a joint declaration on establishing direct sea connectivity, President Duterte and President Widodo agreed to provide naval escorts to the RoRo ships within their respective jurisdiction.

     with Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio

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