P3.4 billion infused to boost Cordillera tourism industry

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BAGUIO CITY  – At least P3.4 billion was infused by the national government to bankroll the implementation of some 50 major infrastructure projects regionwide over the past four years to boost the influx of more foreign and domestic tourist arrivals and contribute in spurring economic growth in the countryside, a senior tourism official said here.

Purificaion S. Molintas, regional director of the Cordillera office of the Department of Tourism (DOT-CAR), explained the tourism infrastructure projects are part of the convergence of the tourism department and the public works department to build roads leading to untapped potential tourist destinations such as heritage sites, rice terraces, caves, trekking sites among other sceneries regionwide.

“The building of new roadlines to the interior parts of the region will help in enticing foreign and domestic tourists to visit new tourist spots and will help in increasing economic activities key to improving the living condition of the people in the remote villages of the region,” Molintas stressed.

From 2010 to 2014, 33 tourism infrastructure projects in Baguio City, Tabuk City, Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao and Mountain Province with a total project cost of P2.39 million were already completed while 17 infrastructure projects pegged at P1.010 billion will be completed next year.

Benguet got a lion’s share of the tourism infrastructure projects with a total of 17 having a total value of P1.3 billion followed by Ifugao with 13 projects costing around P900 million; Mountain Province was given 6 projects costing P640 million; Apayao had 3 projects valued at P350 million; Baguio City was given 7 projects costing P80 million; Abra got 2 projects costing P43 million and Tabuk City had 2 projects valued at P37.6 million.

Molintas explained salient features of the tourism road projects included the existence of viewdecks, public comfort rooms, visitors information center and appropriate signages to guide visitors on the tourist spots to be traversed by the roadline.

“Tourism is an industry of national importance and with strong potentials to generate employment and income and ultimately alleviate the poverty situation in the country,” she added.

She underscored transport infrastructure plays a very critical role in tourism development to generate visitors to go to tourism destinations and contribute in improving economic activities that will translate to poverty alleviation in the countryside.

Molintas added the tourism department is still accepting proposals from local government units for the funding of their respective tourism infrastructure projects for inclusion in the national budget of 2016, provided, that they comply with the stringent requirements of consultations with the affected stakeholders, endorsement of the affected local governments and the Regional Development Council (RDC) and a record of tourist arrivals and tourism-related establishments along the proposed roadline.

The DOT-CAR official disclosed the funding of the tourism infrastructure projects will be in a multi-year program considering the national government’s limited budget allocation, thus, the need for local governments to complete the requirements of their respective requests for funding to allow their desired tourism roads to be prioritized for funding in the succeeding years.

It can be recalled that Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, during a recent visit in the city, disclosed that the tourism department requested for a P60 billion allocation to fund the implementation of tourism road projects nationwide in the 2015 national budget.

However, Secretary Abad cited the national government was only able to grant the tourism department P36 billion for tourism road projects and that the remaining P24 billion will be included for priority allocation in the 2016 national budget.

By Dexter A. See

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