GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 22 July) – The Regional Development Council (RDC) of Region 12 called on the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to allocate funds for the development of more road networks connecting various tourist destinations in the region.
In a resolution, the council asked the DPWH to specifically include in its budget for 2016 the upgrading or concreting of several priority tourism roads in parts of Region 12.
The move was based on a recommendation made to the RDC-12 by its Infrastructure and Utilities Development Committee (InfraCom).
Alfredo Hebrona Jr., InfraCom chair, said his committee was informed in an earlier meeting by officials of DPWH-12 that no additional tourism road projects will be implemented in the region in 2016.
He said the agency will focus its efforts on ensuring the completion by next year of ongoing tourism road projects, most of which were facing delays due to some problems.
The official said his committee believes that tourism road projects are vital to accelerate the socio-economic growth of the local government units hosting the tourism sites as well as the entire region.
He said it will help draw more tourists to these areas as well as boost local employment opportunities.
“The continued support and development of new tourism road projects are really critical for the development of the region’s tourism industry,” he said.
In 2014, DPWH-12 allotted around P340 million for the upgrading of tourism road networks within the region’s four provinces and five cities.
Among those completed were three key access roads leading to emerging ecotourism and adventure sites in Makilala town in North Cotabato and in the municipalities of Glan and Maitum in Sarangani.
These were roads leading to the ecotourism park in Barangay New Israel in Makilala, white sand beaches in Barangay Gumasa in Glan and the water tubing adventure site in Barangay New La Union in Maitum.
In January 2012, the DPWH, Department of Tourism and the Research Education and Institutional Development Foundation Inc. forged a memorandum of agreement to pursue the integration of the plans and programs in support of the government’s tourism infrastructure development as mandated by Republic Act 9593 or the Tourism Act of 2009.
As part of its commitments, the DPWH developed a Tourism Road Infrastructure Project Prioritization Criteria that served as a guide in the development of the local tourism infrastructure.