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Mindanao assured of tourism funds

DAVAO CITY -- Local government units in Mindanao have been assured by the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) of national government financial support for tourism development in the form of a share in the annual budget of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), an official of the island’s development agency said in a recent statement.

“We can help lobby and push for tourism projects that are feasible for funding by TIEZA,” said Luwalhati R. Antonino, chairperson of MinDA, which holds a seat in the TIEZA board.

Ms. Antonino said TIEZA, which replaced the Philippine Tourism Authority in 2009, has committed to allocate at least 40% of its annual budget until 2016 for projects in Mindanao.

This year, Mindanao is getting P151.963 million, or 47.42%, of TIEZA’s P320.463 million budget.

PRIORITIES Ms. Antonino stressed that proposed projects should provide sustainable livelihood for the community and promote environmental protection.

She cited as an example the P30-million ecotourism facilities on Tawi-Tawi’s Turtle Islands which received P28 million from TIEZA.

“While Mindanao is blessed with natural resources that make ecotourism one of its major economic drivers for growth, tourism development... must not be pursued at the expense of our environment,” Ms. Antonino said.

Some of the ongoing TIEZA-funded projects in Mindanao are the Baywalk in Digos City; a drydock facility on Siargao Island; a World War II landmark in Agusan del Sur; as well as access roads and support facilities for Tinuy-an Falls and the Enchanted River, both in Surigao del Sur.

Last week, MinDA launched its inclusive growth program, which aims to help investors find suitable areas for their capital ventures and link them with local governments.

TIEZA, as an agency attached to the Department of Tourism, is mandated to designate, regulate and supervise the establishment of tourism enterprise zones, as well as develop, manage and supervise tourism infrastructure projects. -- C. Q. Francisco and C. A. Carillo

DOT, MinDA sign MOA for Tourism Development

The Department of Tourism (DOT), Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) and the DOT-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) signed  Thursday  a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for the development of tourism areas under the Mindanao Corridor strategy.

“Republic Act No. 9593 also known as The Tourism Act of 2009 declares a national policy for tourism as an engine of investment, employment, growth and national development,” Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo said. This makes the MOA signing significant in making possible the national government’s goal of providing more employment and investment in Mindanao.

The MOA was signed by Teo, MinDA Executive Director Janet Lopoz representing MinDA Secretary Datu Abul Khayr Alonto and DOT-ARMM Regional Secretary Ayesha Vanessa Hajar Dilangalen. Under the MOA, the three signatories agreed to coordinate efforts to facilitate the Mindanao Tourism Industry Development in the context of developing the Mindanao economic corridors and its clusters.

The collaboration will be known as the Mindanao Development Corridors-Tourism Development Joint Planning and Programming (MinDC-JPP for Tourism Development). DOT, MinDA and DOT-ARMM also agreed to collaborate for an integrated, coordinated and rationalized planning and programming to ensure timely and optimal use of resources through the Mindanao Development Corridors initiative.

Teo said MinDC-JPP will be a platform for vetting, prioritizing and mobilizing resources for Mindanao-wide, interregional and strategic programs and projects.

MinDA plays a very important role in tourism development as under RA 9996, it is mandated to promote, coordinate and facilitate the active and extensive participation of all sectors to effect the socioeconomic development of Mindanao. On the other hand, DOT-ARMM is the primary government agency charged with the responsibility to encourage, promote and develop tourism as major socio-economic activity to generate foreign currency and employment and to spread the benefits of tourism to as wider segment of the population with the support, assistance and cooperation of both private and public sector and to ensure the safe, convenient enjoyable stay and travel of the foreign and local tourist in the region.

It aims to improve infrastructure, establish connectivity, and spur the development of growth clusters within Mindanao by optimizing the growth of regions based on their potentials and strategic roles in the overall development of Mindanao. DOT, MinDA and DOT-ARMM has vowed to conduct regular MinDC-JPP for Tourism Development with the end goal of generating the priority Mindanaowide, interregional and strategic tourism programs and projects that will address the needs of Mindanao. - By lovely a. carillo


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PH to make Mindanao global tourist spot in 2017

'We will bring Mindanao to global tourism this year,' Tourism Assistant Secretary Frederick Alegre says Gualberto Laput

DAPITAN CITY, Philippines – Despite the negative publicity brought by terrorism and problems in peace and order, the Department of Tourism (DOT) vowed to make Mindanao a global tourist spot in 2017.

"We will bring Mindanao to global tourism this year," Tourism Assistant Secretary Frederick Alegre said. Alegre explained that government agencies will complement the private sector, which is mainly the driving force of tourism.

"The present administration is committed to ending the peace and order problem. We will build necessary infrastructure to support tourism and – this is important – for every negative publicity, we will have at least 12 positive promotions," Alegre told Rappler. He pointed out that safe places outnumber those affected by peace and order problems in Mindanao. He said this is why a first batch of Miss Universe candidates was brought to Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte two weeks ago. It was for them to see that Mindanao is not as dangerous as portrayed in some publications.

"Besides, we recognize – and this is even globally recognized – that lawless activities are a modern-day hazard. It is no different from being accidentally hit by a car on the street. There is risk factor in traveling, but the love to travel, the desire to see sites, always exceeds the risk factor," Alegre said.

He also said the Philippines can become an alternative tourist destination because a lot of global tourists have already seen the rest of Asia. Alegre pointed to Dapitan in Zamboanga del Norte as a potential draw for historical or heritage tourism. It is the city where national hero Jose Rizal spent his final days in exile before his trial and execution in Manila.

"It's a little more than an hour's flight from Manila to nearby Dipolog Airport, and in 30 minutes, you can be on a river cruise in Dapitan, dive spots in 5 minutes. I am told that there is a sunk 18th-century galleon here. You can be golfing, and at the end of the day, you can have great food and rest at 5-star Dakak beach resort. These are what attract global tourists," Alegre said. He said there will be an influx of Chinese tourists next year, with an initial 1,200 of them already booked to visit Dapitan in early 2017. (READ: China lifts travel advisory vs PH)

With the help of Zamboanga del Norte 1st District Representative Seth Frederick Jalosjos, Alegre said the tourism department will work with the Department of Justice and the Bureau Immigration to fast-track the conversion of Dipolog Airport into an international airport.

"We intend to bring Chinese tourists directly to Dapitan," Alegre said. – Rappler.com

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