Execs urged to submit viable tourism dev't proposals

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014


MINDANAO Development Authority (Minda) Chair Luwalhati Antonino urged local chief executives in Mindanao to come up with viable eco-tourism development proposals, which can be pushed by MinDA for possible funding from the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza) board.

Speaking at the opening ceremonies of the 54th founding anniversary of Surigao del Sur held here recently, Antonino said that MinDA can help lobby for feasible tourism projects since the organization now sits as one of the members of the Tieza board by virtue of Republic Act 9996 or otherwise known as the Minda Act of 2010.

She added that MinDA endorsed to TIEZA several tourism project proposals from the province of Surigao del Sur, which are currently being undertaken. These include the provision for road access and other support facilities for the Tinuy-an Falls, Enchanted River, and the Britannia Islets Jump-off point.

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“Surigao del Sur is host to a number of Mindanao’s key tourist destinations such as the Tinuy-an Falls in Bislig City, touted as the “Niagara Falls of the Philippines,” Hinatuan’s Enchanted River, which is unique to the country, and the becomingly popular Britania Group of Islands in San Agustin,” said Antonino.

Prior to the creation of Minda and its membership to the TIEZA board, the entire island-region of Mindanao used to receive an average of seven to 10 percent share from the Philippine Tourism Authority’s (now TIEZA) annual budget.

However, with Minda's membership to the Tieza board, the island-region got a hefty share of 35 percent or P157 million from TIEZA’s budget for tourism development in 2011. A 40 percent share or P340 million from the P851.22-million TIEZA budget for tourism development in 2012 was also secured by the island-region.

“Among the completed TIEZA projects in Mindanao in 2013 include the construction of Bagobo-Tagabawa Village in Sitio Lawon, Barangay Tibolo, Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur, the construction of Davao Oriental Provincial Museum, and the Lake Sebu development.

A P30 million budget was also secured from TIEZA for the construction and implementation of ecotourism projects aimed to protect endangered marine species and help sustain community-based tourism enterprises in Tawi-Tawi’s Turtle Islands, one of the world’s major nesting sites of marine turtles.

Antonino, who went to the islands for an ocular visit last month said the projects are aimed to provide the residents sustainable means of livelihood by promoting the islands as tourist attraction while ensuring the protection of the endangered species and their nesting sites.

Other ongoing Tieza projects in Mindanao include the construction of Baywalk in Brgy. Aplaya, Digos City, Davao del Sur; the Tourism Police Information Counter in Polomolok, South Cotabato; the World War II landmark in Rosario, Agusan del Sur; and the construction of one unit drydock facility or boat ramp in Siargao Island.

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

She called on Mindanawons to rally for the protection and conservation of the island-region’s watersheds and river basins under the MindaNOW! Nurturing Our Waters Program, which seeks to safeguard Mindanao’s environment from degradation.

Antonino explained that Mindanawons share the same resource, “therefore we also share the responsibility of protecting and nurturing our environment,” she concluded.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 02, 2014.

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