Tourism convergence project gets P12 billion

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The convergence program of the Departments of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and Tourism (DOT) has been allotted P12 billion, primarily for the country’s tourism road projects.

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Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez said during the recently held 22nd Mindanao Business Conference that, “This year’s budget will be utilized to implement road projects leading to tourism destinations that highlight the island-region’s natural strengths such as nature, culture and leisure.”

He also said that provisions for road access and other support facilities for the Tinuy-an Falls, Enchanted River and Britania group of islands—among the most visited tourist destinations in Caraga Region—are already included in the DOT-DPWH convergence program.

These road projects include the concreting of the Dugmanon to Enchanted River Baculin road in Talisay, Hinatuan; the Cumawas-Tinuy-an road and the Salvacion-Britania road.

In a parallel effort, the Department of Transportation and Communication will also implement the improvement of the Surigao and Sayak airports, seen to increase tourist arrivals in parts of Mindanao.

DOT said that Mindanao’s tourism sector is given a boost as P3.82 billion is allotted for the implementation of tourism road projects this year, a 120-percent increase from last year’s P1.5-billion allocation.

Mindanao’s current share accounts 31 percent of the country’s P12-billion budget for tourism road projects, as compared to last year’s 19 percent of the total budget of P8 billion. The road projects will be implemented through the convergence program.

Among these projects include the upgrading of the access road leading to the Rafflesia yard in Bukidnon; the improvement of the Rizal-Dakak-Dapitan coastal loop road in Dapitan, Zam—boanga del Norte; the upgrading of the Lacson-Lamanan-Inayangan-Megkawayan road in Davao City; the improvement of the Island Garden City of Samal circumferential road and the upgrading of the Makilalla-Allah Valley Road to Baras Bird Sanctuary in Tacurong City.

“These upcoming projects definitely heed the call of Mindanao for better road connectivity among its top tourism sites,” said Luwalhati Antonino, chairman of the Mindanao Development Authority.

Luwalhati also sits as a one of the board members and the chair of the Infrastructure Committee of Tourism Infrastructure Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza).

For 2012, Tieza allocated a budget of about P300 million for Mindanao, which is roughly 40 percent of the total budget, and about 5 percent higher than the P157-million budget in 2011.

The Caraga region is considered one of Mindanao’s fastest-growing destinations because of its eco-tourism and internationally recognized surfing activities.

“Complementing these road projects, are several tourism products being readied for Mindanao, which include tour packages and tourism loops in the island-region’s fast-growing tourism destinations such Caraga,” Jimenez added.

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