Tubigon, Badian win big in tourism challenge

Central Visayas dili ma-ECQ. (File photo)
Central Visayas dili ma-ECQ. (File photo)

TWO provinces in Central Visayas scored major wins in the Tourism Champions Challenge (TCC) hosted by the Department of Tourism (DOT).

Tubigon, Bohol bagged first place in the TCC in the Visayas for the Enchanted Ilijan Plug of Tubigon which is identified as the country’s first volcanic plug.

A volcanic plug is like a hardened plug of lava that forms in the vent of an extinct volcano. Volcanic plugs are remnants of ancient volcanic activity and can vary in size from small hills to towering formations.

According to the DOT, the project holds significant tourism potential by establishing infrastructure to improve the socio-economic condition and well-being of the Tubigon communities.

As a prize, Tubigon secured P20 million in funding to promote this new attraction.

The town of Badian, Cebu, on the other hand, bagged the second place for Badian Toong Spring Nature Park. It won P15 million in tourism funding.

“Badian weaves the integration of conservation, sustainable tourism and community engagement,” the DOT said.

According to DOT, Badian’s tourism proposal aims to contribute to the protection of ecosystems, empower local communities actively engaged in ecotourism and promote sustainable development practices in Badian.

Other winners in the Visayas were Silago, Southern Leyte for Silago Ridge to Reef Eco-experience Project for promoting sustainability through eco-heritage tourism (P10 million); Victoria’s City, Negros Occidental for Gawahon: A Birder’s Paradise, positioned as a haven for sustainable and inclusive eco-tourism (P8 million); and Panay, Capiz, whose proposal is the Panay Coastal Resource Experience Project that intends to develop Panay’s mangrove forest with nature-inspired cottages and breathtaking views (P7 million).

The TCC is a flagship program of the DOT in collaboration with the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza) which aims to empower local government units (LGUs) through tourism infrastructure projects geared towards the improvement and enhancement of our local tourism industry.

During the awarding ceremony on April 15, 2024, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., announced that winning LGUs will additionally receive P5 million each, on top of their prizes.

Marcos described that the proposals submitted to the TCC are “not mere proposals” but an “impressive catalogue of creativity and innovation.”

“It is also heartwarming to note that these are not mere proposals anymore, but they are existing projects of proven value and that have already shown unqualified success. This is the way tourism should be developed in our view, like economic growth, not relying on trickle-down, but built from the ground up,” Marcos said.

A brainchild of Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco, the project is envisioned to bring a local perspective to the national government and make governance more inclusive by involving the grassroots.

Criteria, prizes

The DOT regional offices received about 98 project proposals from 90 LGUs.

The best project proposals were selected according to these criteria: resiliency, inclusivity, and sustainable development (20 percent); relevance to the “Challenge” theme (10 percent); project objective and impact on tourism (20 percent); economic and financial viability (20 percent); sustainability mechanism (15 percent) and presentation quality (15 percent).

The DOT started receiving proposals from March to May 2023.

During TCC’s launching in April last year, it committed P180 million, funding sourced from Tieza, to give away as prizes to the winning projects.

All first placers get P20 million each, with second placers receiving P15 million each; third placers (P10 million each); fourth placers (P8 million each) and fifth placers getting P7 million each.

The proposals were reviewed by the TCC Committee chaired by Frasco, with Undersecretary Shahlimar Hofer Tamano and Tieza chief operating officer Mark Lapid as vice chairs, and other DOT officials as members.

Invited judges for the TCC Committee also included Department of the Interior and Local Government Benjamin Abalos, Jr. represented by Assistant Secretary Lilian De Leon, Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga represented by regional director Ma. Victoria Abrera and Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s vice president for Trade Mission and director of the Environment and Climate Change, Infrastructure, and Construction Committee Felino Palafox Jr., with PricewaterhouseCoopers as knowledge partner. / KOC

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